Residents urge council to keep landfill out Arundel officials must decide whether to defy order to include project

October 08, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Council members seem in a quandary about a Circuit Court ruling that they must include a proposed rubble landfill many residents object to in the county's updated Solid Waste Master Plan.

Homeowners near the planned 481-acre site south of Odenton waited through 4 1/2 hours of council business Monday night to try to help them out of that quandary.

At least 50 people, wearing stickers with a black slash through the words "Chesapeake Terrace," as the proposed landfill is known, urged the council to keep the facility out of the plan, court ruling or no. Many waited until past midnight for a chance to speak.

"You are not a rubber stamp," the Rev. Samuel Whittaker told council members. His church, St. John AME Zion, is across the street from the intended landfill entrance at the end of Conway Road.

Developer Warren E. Halle has been trying to open a landfill south of Odenton for nearly 10 years, but surrounding communities have fought him at public hearings and in court.

A year ago, Halle sued the county for $40 million, claiming the county illegally blocked his ability to get state approval for the landfill.

A trial in the lawsuit is on hold while the county appeals the ruling made in July by Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr.

The council, which cannot vote after midnight, is expected to again consider the Solid Waste Master Plan, up for review every three years, at its meeting Oct. 20.

Eight-year-old Samantha Robinson, a member of St. John AME Zion, earned a round of applause for a prepared statement she read close to midnight.

"I don't want a landfill near my church," said Ross, noting that children play on the church's property and near the road. "I have faith that you will understand why everybody who lives, works or fellowships in the Forks of the Patuxent area does not want the landfill."

Putting the landfill near the predominantly black church and communities where many black residents live would be environmental racism, said Leroy W. Warren Jr., a member of the board of directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The county does not need the landfill, Department of Public Works officials told the council Monday night. It was included as one of two proposed solid waste management facilities only because of the judge's order, according to Deputy County Attorney David A. Plymyer.

"I am really not too sure what my role is," said Councilman William C. Mulford II, a Republican. "Are we a rubber stamp?"

Plymyer said members would be taking a risk by ignoring the court order and cutting the landfill out.

But he also said: "If you find in your conscience that disobeying the court order is worth the risk, then that's the way you've got to vote."

Halle's lawyer, Steven P. Resnick, attended Monday's hearing but did not speak.

No one spoke in support of the landfill.

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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