Recycler may be mulching without proper permits Local, state agencies debate zoning issues

August 22, 1996|By Edward Lee and Andrea F. Siegel | Edward Lee and Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An article in yesterday's Anne Arundel edition of The Sun incorrectly reported which agency enforces the county zoning code. The Department of Planning and Code Enforcement handles that function.

The Sun regrets the error.

A Pasadena recycling plant that has a 60-day contract with the county to grind wood stumps into mulch apparently has been doing so without a permit and without proper zoning.

The owner of A-A Recycle & Sand Inc. in the 8200 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. said yesterday that local and state agencies have told him he may continue recycling wood, which he said he has been doing for two years.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"I did everything they asked me to," said William H. DeBaugh, who has another sand and gravel plant in Linthicum. "I've complied with everything they said, right on down the line."

DeBaugh said he has been operating on 9.9 acres behind Lake Waterford Park since 1990. The plant's primary work is crushing concrete and asphalt.

The plant completed a June 23, 1995, application to the Maryland Department of the Environment for a natural wood waste permit, which would allow it to recycle stumps and branches into mulch. Eight plants in the state have such permits.

DeBaugh said an MDE official told him he could continue recycling wood under a grandfather clause because he had been doing it for several months before regulations covering wood waste took effect.

MDE officials, however, said they had not given the plant owner such authorization.

"They should not be operating until they get a permit," said Quentin Banks, an MDE spokesman.

Banks said no permit was issued because the plant is not in a zone that allows a wood-waste operation.

The property is zoned heavy commercial. Because no specific classification for wood-waste plants exists, the county considers such plants to be similar to lumber mills, which are permitted in light industrial and heavy industrial zones, said John A. Morris, a spokesman for the county Department of Planning and Code Enforcement.

Morris said the zoning issue became moot after the county received a letter dated Oct. 27, 1995, from Hedy V. Alavi, acting chief of the MDE Design and Certification Division.

Maryland laws "do not require zoning approval prior to issuance of a [natural wood waste recycling facility] permit," Alavi's letter said. "Once all the applicable permit application requirements are satisfied, [the state] is compelled to issue a NWWRF permit."

Although the plant violates the zoning code, the county signed a short-term, $1,360 contract with the plant to recycle 16 truckloads of stumps, Morris said.

"What happened was, the departments of Public Works and Central Services, which handle purchasing were unaware that the regulatory division had sent violation notices to the facility, and nor should they have been," he said. "Their responsibility is to provide taxpayers with the best, most efficient services their tax dollars can purchase."

The contract began July 9, and all 16 loads were delivered, he said.

Morris said the Public Works and Central Services Department xTC does not strictly enforce the zoning if the violator is seeking ways to comply with the code.

DeBaugh said county Councilman Thomas W. Redmond has drawn up a bill that would allow wood-waste facilities in more zoning areas, including heavy commercial, but introduction of the measure has been delayed while the council debates pension-reform legislation.

DeBaugh said getting his business properly approved is his first concern.

"I want to be legitimate," he said. "I've been in business in Anne Arundel County for 45 years, and I have never tried to do anything that wasn't right."

Pub Date: 8/22/96

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