Zoning Board nears deadline on BFI case

October 13, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Zoning Board is flirting with a Wednesdaydeadline to sign an order finalizing the panel's July 17 denial of a plan by Browning-Ferris Industries to build a solid-waste trash transfer station on a 17-acre site in Elkridge.

If the formal document is not signed, officials from the Houston-based BFI would be allowed to re-present closing arguments for the controversial facility.

But Paul Johnson, an attorney with the county's Office of Law vTC who advises the Zoning Board, said he has submitted the decision and order to the panel and expects board members to sign it.

"I understand that everyone is concerned and hearing rumors that the board is going to change its mind," Johnson said. "That is not the case. We just have a lot of cases we need to get to."

Michael Dougherty, a BFI vice president, said the company is not considering rearguing the case, but would not rule out an appeal of the Zoning Board's decision.

"We fully expect the Zoning Board to file the decision and order by the deadline," Dougherty said. "We want to wait and see what that will say and then determine what our next step will be."

BFI had sought permission for a solid-waste transfer station on the site on Cemetery Lane, which is zoned for light manufacturing and where the waste management company operates a recycling center.

Company officials had testified that the facility would consolidate nonrecyclable household trash and prepare it for transportation to a landfill.

But nearby residents predicted that odors and noise from the station would bother their communities and that trucks carrying trash there would further clog a crowded U.S. 1, one of the area's major roadways.

After the Zoning Board voted 4-1 to reject the plan July 17, the Office of Law had 60 days to draw up a decision and order. But that deadline passed Sept. 16, and county lawyers appealed for another 30 days, which ends Wednesday.

Although BFI officials would be prohibited from offering new testimony or evidence, Johnson acknowledged that regulations would allow BFI officials to reargue the case.

"But everyone made their closing arguments in July," Johnson said. "I can't imagine anyone doing that all over again."

Neither can Kevin Doyle, who chairs the planning and zoning committee for the Elkridge Community Association, which vehemently protested the BFI plan.

Doyle said he is opposed to rearguing the case.

"We would rather not see that happen," Doyle said. "This is a case that is very sensitive to us. We'd like to see some finality to the decision."

Pub Date: 10/13/97

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