Council takes landfill plan out of draft No need for site for rubble was established, foes say

Final ballot due Nov. 17

Nearby residents have fought proposal for years

October 21, 1997|By TANYA JONES | TANYA JONES,SUN STAFF

The County Council struck a controversial rubble landfill proposal from the solid waste management plan draft last night.

In a unanimous vote on an amendment sponsored by Councilman Bert L. Rice, whose district includes the 481-acre site in Odenton where the landfill would be situated, the council struck all references to Chesapeake Terrace from the draft.

The council's action came two weeks after the legislative body questioned whether a circuit judge could order them to vote to include the plan.

A final vote on the document could come on Nov. 17 after a public hearing on the amended draft.

The county does not need another rubble landfill for construction and demolition debris, Rice and other members said. They also said the council has the right to include or exclude provisions from the draft based on the county's needs.

"What has been proposed can be either revised, amended or changed," by the council, Councilman William C. Mulford II noted. "We heard nothing from anyone to support the Chesapeake Terrace facility. Nobody even said we need it."

At a public hearing on the draft two weeks ago, no representatives for property owner Warren E. Halle or his company, National Waste Managers Inc., spoke.

Halle sued the county a year ago, claiming officials blocked his ability to get a state permit for the landfill when the council voted to exclude it from a 1994 draft of the plan.

In March, Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. said the county had erred by striking the landfill proposal from the plan. In July, he ordered the county to reinstate the proposal or pay a $250,000 fine.

Greene lifted the threat in August, when the county Department of Public Works sent a letter to the Maryland Department of the Environment saying that the landfill complied with the plan.

"I am disappointed that they chose not to follow the law," said Halle's attorney, Steven P. Resnick.

The vote came as part of the council's triennial review of the solid waste management plan, which is prepared by the public works agency. The plan outlines transport, disposal and recycling efforts for the coming decade.

Chesapeake Terrace was one of two proposed facilities that had been included in the draft. The other is a trash transfer and recycling station proposed for Curtis Creek, which would be allowed to accept rubble and other types of waste.

During its last review of the plan in 1994, the council voted to remove the landfill from a draft of the plan, though the county board of appeals had granted the facility a special exception in 1993.

Residents of Wilsontown, the neighborhood closest to the site, and other Odenton and Crofton residents have fought Halle's proposal in hearings and in court for nearly 10 years.

About 30 residents applauded the council's vote last night.

"They did hear the voice of people that they serve as opposed to private industry," said the Rev. Samuel Whittaker, pastor of St. John AME Zion Church, which is across Conway Road from the proposed entrance to the landfill.

Before last night's vote, MDE officials would not speculate on what effect council action would have on the Chesapeake Terrace application for a rubble landfill permit.

"We have to wait and see exactly what the County Council does and the specific language they give to the county executive on what to do next," said Quentin Banks, MDE spokesman.

After placing the application on hold, MDE began to reconsider it in August after the county Department of Public Works sent a letter stating that the landfill was "in conformity" with the county's waste management plan.

The Public Works Department was merely complying with Greene's order and trying to avoid a $250,000 fine for contempt, according to Deputy County Attorney David A. Plymyer.

The county has appealed Greene's order in the Court of Special Appeals, saying a judge cannot order a legislative act.

By pointing out that no one had spoken in favor of the landfill or a need for it in the county, council members were in effect inviting Halle or a company representative to speak up at the next public hearing, Councilman John J. Klocko III said.

"It was sort of an invitation," Klocko said after last night's meeting. "They have been conspicuously absent from the council's proceedings."

Pub Date: 10/21/97

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