Residents decry bill on wood recycling Allowing plant near their homes opposed

February 14, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

About 20 Pasadena residents said they will protest a County (( Council proposal to allow the operation of natural wood-waste recycling facilities in commercial-highway and light and heavy industrial zones.

The Selby Grove residents said they oppose any legislation that would allow A-A Recycle and Sand Inc. in the 8200 block of Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. to grind wood stumps and tree limbs into mulch in the commercial area that abuts their neighborhood. Since 1990, the plant has been crushing concrete and asphalt, but residents began complaining when the plant started grinding stumps and tree limbs last summer.

"It's unsightly and very, very noisy," said Helen Warfield, who keeps a radio turned on 11 hours a day six days a week in her home on Drum Avenue North. "It's this THUMP, THUMP, THUMP. It's so horrendous."

Her neighbor, Joyce Zimmerman, agrees. "It's like they're banging these big steel things together," she said. "You can still hear it with the doors closed."

A bill drafted by Councilman Thomas W. Redmond, a Pasadena Democrat, would allow facilities such as A-A Recycle to operate in C4, or commercial-highway zones like the one near Warfield's and Zimmerman's houses, and in W2 and W3 -- light and heavy industrial zones. The public hearing is at 7: 30 p.m. Tuesday in the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

John A. Morris, a spokesman for the county Department of Planning and Code Enforcement, said one-sixth of the A-A Recycle plant's 9.9-acre site is zoned C4, while the remainder is residential. The zoning code does not address wood-waste processing facilities as permissible uses in any district, he said.

Under the current zoning code, wood-waste processing facilities are likened to lumber mills. The legislation would give such facilities their own classification in the zoning code.

The Maryland Department of the Environment approves permits for natural wood-waste recycling, which allow facilities to turn stumps and branches into mulch.

A-A Recycle, owned by William H. DeBaugh and in operation since 1990, received its wood-waste recycling permit in September, making it the ninth plant in the state to receive a permit.

Redmond said the impetus for his bill was the failure of the tri-county composting facility operated by the Maryland Environmental Service on the Anne Arundel-Howard border.

Redmond pointed out that the county was paying $36 per ton at that facility while private companies were offering to recycle the same amount for as little as $8 a ton.

"If we can get the private sector involved, it should save the taxpayers money," he said. "I definitely think that the private sector can do it better."

But residents said they fear that the A-A plant, which had recycled 16 truckloads of stumps for the county last summer, will pick up where the composting facility left off and create a stench. "We just don't need it next to a residential area," said William Warfield, Helen Warfield's husband, who has lived in Selby Grove for 35 years.

Edward L. Looker, who has lived across from the Warfields for 33 years, said he is worried about runoff and dust from the facility, which is only a few hundred feet from a stream that empties into Lake Waterford and eventually the Magothy River.

"It's been a valuable habitat," said Looker, who noted the recent absence of frogs and muskrat. "We don't know what's going into the ground water there, and we're concerned."

DeBaugh was in Delaware on a business trip and unavailable to comment.

In an interview in August, 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."

There is only one other wood-waste recycling facility in the county. Buddy Cox Inc. runs Top-Pro on 9 acres on Cronson Boulevard in Crofton Industrial Park.

Bernard "Buddy" Cox said county officials told him in 1992 that he had to put his plant in a heavy industrial district, which he said has meant higher lease rates.

Now, he questions why DeBaugh should be allowed to operate his facility in a commercial-highway area next to several residences. "I don't care if you have a 20-foot buffer, you're going to hear and see it," Cox said.

Pub Date: 2/14/97

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