Incinerator moratorium again rejected Appeals court upholds reversal of Baltimore law

November 09, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A state appeals court affirmed yesterday a ruling that struck down Baltimore's incinerator ban.

The decision by the Court of Special Appeals cleared a hurdle from the path of construction magnate Willard J. Hackerman, who plans to build a $300 million trash burning plant in place of the defunct Pulaski Incinerator.

The court ruled that the moratorium is an illegal intrusion into the state's regulatory authority over solid waste disposal.

"We conclude that the Moratorium essentially establishes a veto over State decisions," Judge Arrie W. Davis wrote in a published opinion.

The 18-page decision affirmed a ruling Dec. 21, 1995, by Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel.

It disappointed city officials and environmentalists, who have fought the incinerator for several years.

Acting City Solicitor Otho M. Thompson said the city is likely to ask the Court of Appeals to reverse the decision. But he said he still had to discuss the ruling with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

Environmental groups vowed to continue fighting.

"We're not going to just let this issue go," said Daniel L. Jerrems, chairman of the Baltimore Recycling Coalition, which hired a lawyer to file a brief with the appeals court defending the city's moratorium.

Hackerman still must obtain a solid waste disposal permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment before the incinerator can be built, Jerrems said. And to win the permit, he must show the incinerator is consistent with the city's 10-year solid waste disposal plan.

Jerrems said the coalition plans to lobby Baltimore City Council to amend the plan to make the incinerator illegal.

"Incinerators are like dinosaurs, their future has come and gone," he said.

Hackerman bought the Pulaski Highway incinerator from the city in 1981.

It was closed in 1995 after years of problems meeting state air quality standards. The cost of retrofitting the plant to meet the standards then would have been between $60 million and $100 million.

Hackerman applied for permits to build a new incinerator. But he ran into roadblocks from the city, which enacted a five-year moratorium on incinerator construction, allowing only narrow exemptions, in 1992.

He sued the city in Circuit Court in Baltimore County, where his company is based, after he failed to persuade the city to lift the moratorium or grant him an exemption.

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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