3 more hearings scheduled on proposed waste station Zoning panel won't decide until at least June

April 17, 1997|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Zoning Board will not make a decision on a proposed trash transfer station in Elkridge until June at the earliest.

It had been expected that yesterday's all-day hearing -- the 11th session on the issue, dating to January -- would be the last.

But, after attorneys for Browning-Ferris Industries and witnesses for the opponents -- a coalition of Elkridge residents and merchants -- continued wrangling over whether the transfer station would be suitable for the community, the board scheduled three more hearings, May 28, June 2 and June 4.

BFI proposes building the transfer station on a 17-acre site on Cemetery Lane where the waste-management company operates a recycling center. At the transfer station, trash would be prepared and loaded onto trucks to be taken to landfills.

There was lengthy testimony from opponents of the station that there is no compelling need for it, but BFI attorney Ronald S. Schimel produced a letter from Joseph W. Rutter Jr., director of the Howard County Planning and Zoning Department, that holds otherwise.

The letter, dated Oct. 2, 1996, says the station is needed because of the limited capacity and life expectancy of the county's Alpha Ridge Landfill, which no longer accepts residential trash. Closing the landfill will mean that the county's trash must be transported to other landfills, which requires a transfer station.

Howard has signed a contract with USA Waste, which runs a trash transfer station in Annapolis Junction, in Anne Arundel County, and now handles all of the county's residential trash.

Rutter also wrote that the proposed transfer station would be similar to -- and have the same effect on the surrounding community as -- the recycling center at the site.

The opponents have argued that the station would not fit in with the surrounding residences and business parks.

"A transfer station is a use that needs considerable attention in its siting," Mark Wendland, a senior associate and landscape architect for LDR International in Columbia, testified.

BFI "has gone to excessive measures to squeeze the station onto the site," he said.

BFI's request for a transfer station in an area zoned for light manufacturing requires approval from the Zoning Board, which consists of the five County Council members.

BFI representatives have argued that the transfer station would keep trash tipping fees low by competing with a similar station in Anne Arundel County and another in Baltimore County.

Residents and merchants contend that odors and noise from the transfer station would hurt their community, and that trucks carrying trash to the station would further clog crowded U.S. 1.

The county zoning and planning boards first approved BFI's proposal three years ago.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed that decision last April and sent the issue back to the Zoning Board, ruling that the county had not properly notified the public of changes in the proposal. BFI renewed its request last year.

Pub Date: 4/17/97

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