Advisory committee doesn't like regional compost agreement

April 25, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Local opponents of a proposed regional yard waste compost facility in Howard County say the plans are not sound and that they will ask Anne Arundel County officials to kill the $5.9 million pact.

Members of the county's Solid Waste Advisory Committee will present their position tonight in a meeting with public works officials and again Monday when the County Council holds a hearing and votes on the Jessup facility.

The agreement among officials from Howard, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties has been in the works since fall. Howard and Baltimore counties have approved the plan, but all three counties must approve it before it can go into effect.

Anne Arundel officials say they need a reliable place to unload 15,000 tons of grass clippings, brush and leaves.

An equivalent amount, they say, may continue to go to compost businesses in the county and to a compost center in Prince George's County.

James Pittman, a deputy public works director, said he fears that Anne Arundel will be shut out of the Prince George's site as it fills with local debris.

Advisory committee members advocate a combined yard and food waste compost center instead of the Jessup facility, and others decry the proposal that each county commit itself to paying $36.17 a ton for 20 years.

When Newth Morris, the committee chairman, suggested a neutral position this month, the committee refused to budge.

"The county does not want us to oppose them," said Anne Pearson, director of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities and a member of the advisory panel's composting group.

"The thing for them to offer is a food and yard waste facility in the future. Food is benign and useful to integrate into the yard waste."

That would mean redesigning the regional facility and renegotiating the three-county pact.

It also could mean sorting kitchen trash, because chicken bones, for example, could not go into the compost mix.

Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for the Land Use Office, said the county would consider a test program elsewhere that uses food waste.

Committee member Wayne Thayer of Crownsville said he fears that the county would be making a bad investment, partly because the administration is reviving a proposal to allow yard waste composting in rural areas, he said.

Such waste now is relegated to industrial sites.

Yesterday, Mr. Thayer sent a letter to the County Council suggesting that it explore paying farmers to take yard waste to enrich their soil.

Some of what will be said tonight will be a dry run for a May 10 public forum.

The committee will make a presentation from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Pascal Center at Anne Arundel Community College.

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