Judge's order favors landfill But county plans to appeal decision

April 01, 1997|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF Staff writer Tanya Jones contributed to this article.

A Circuit Court judge has ordered Anne Arundel County to add a controversial landfill near Crofton to its waste management plan, opening the way for approval of a facility neighbors have fought for years.

But county lawyers said yesterday they will appeal the decision by Judge Clayton Greene Jr. to the Court of Special Appeals. Greene ruled on March 26 that county officials exceeded their authority in 1994 when they excluded Warren Halle's Chesapeake landfill from the Solid Waste Management Plan.

That exclusion prevented Halle from obtaining a state permit necessary to construct the rubble landfill on a 481-acre tract between Patuxent and Conway roads, state officials said.

The judge said the county may not block the landfill just because neighbors are opposed to it. Officials need a specific reason to say it is not needed.

"The flaw in the county's argument is that its decision to exclude Chesapeake landfill from its SWM (Solid Waste Management) plan was arbitrary," he wrote in an 11-page decision the parties received yesterday.

Steven P. Resnick, Halle's lawyer, said the decision represents the last legal issue to be resolved before Halle can start on a 150-acre portion of the tract.

"From a practical point of view, this is the last hurdle," Resnick said.

But John Breads Jr., an assistant county solicitor, said through a spokeswoman that the judge had "misinterpreted the law."

Neighbors of the site criticized the ruling. They said the landfill would clog their highways with trucks and may contaminate wells and damage wetlands.

"I'm really fearful of the results of this decision," said Edwin F. Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association. The landfill would bring more trucks through the intersection of Route 3 and Conway Road in Crofton, he said.

The state should at least require liners at rubble landfills to protect the environment, he said.

Issue dates to 1991

Halle has been seeking county approval for the landfill since 1991, when he applied for a special exception.

The county Board of Appeals granted the exception. After a series of court appeals, he also won a ruling from the Court of Appeals ordering the county to grant it to him.

But even with the special exception, Halle lacked the necessary listing on the Solid Waste Management Plan and the environmental permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Halle's Silver Spring-based company, National Waste Managers Inc., filed suit in October seeking a court order to require the county to include the landfill on the list.

The suit also sought $40 million in damages, based on claims the county has illegally blocked the landfill's approval.

Damages sought

Resnick said that Halle intends to seek damages at trial.

"Damages are squarely on the table and will be pursued," Resnick said.

Pub Date: 4/01/97

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