Council keeps landfill out of plan Judge had ordered rubble site included

November 18, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Affirming its decision a month ago to strike a controversial rubble landfill from the county's long-range solid waste plan, the County Council gave final approval last night to the amended plan.

The council's unanimous decision flies in the face of a circuit judge's order that the council include the proposed rubble fill in the Solid Waste Management Plan, which is updated every three years.

A proposed rubble landfill must be included in the plan if such a facility is to receive a permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

Council members voted without discussion last night after a public hearing that produced no comments in favor of the plan or against it.

Residents who live near the Odenton site of the proposed Chesapeake Terrace landfill packed council chambers for the third time in two months to show their opposition to the facility, but none testified.

"They did exactly what we wanted them to do," Katha-rina DeHaas, president of the Forks of the Patuxent Improvement Association, said of the council's action. The association represents several neighborhoods near the proposed site.

DeHaas said residents would have testified if representatives of National Waste Managers Inc., the Silver Spring company headed by developer Warren E. Halle, who owns the property on which the landfill would be located, had testified last night.

The proposed rubble landfill would be located on 150 acres of a 481-acre tract roughly bounded by Patuxent and Conway roads near the neighborhoods of Wilson Town and Woodwardville, an area where several sand and gravel mines exist.

In a letter to the council last month, Steven P. Resnick, lawyer for National Waste, said that the council "is under legal obligation to include Chesapeake Terrace in the Plan."

With the council's decision, the long-standing dispute between the county and Halle and his company remains to be settled in court.

Halle won victories earlier this year when Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. ruled in March that the council had erred in 1994 when it made an "arbitrary" decision to exclude the proposed landfill from the plan, and when Greene ordered the county in July to insert the proposal into the plan or pay a $250,000 fine.

The fine was lifted in August when county officials sent a court-ordered letter to MDE informing the state agency that the proposed landfill complied with the county's solid waste management plan, though the plan included no mention of the proposal.

When the public works agency submitted the plan for the council's regular three-year review last month, Chesapeake Terrace was listed as a proposal, but the council voted unanimously to strike it.

MDE has continued to process the Chesapeake Terrace permit application on the basis of the county's letter, according to MDE spokesman Quentin Banks.

The county appealed the judge's March ruling and a hearing in the state Court of Special Appeals could be held as early as next month, according to lawyers for the county and for Halle.

Halle's lawsuit against the county, filed a year ago, asks for $10 million in damages for the delay to his project. But Resnick said recently that those damages are mounting daily.

The communities that have opposed the landfill since it was proposed in 1989 say they are ready for the coming court proceedings.

"The strategy is still the same," said the Rev. Samuel Whittaker, pastor of St. John AME Zion Church, which sits across Conway Road from what would be a truck entrance to the proposed landfill. "We will continue to speak out against it. I don't imagine the courts will overturn anything the council has done here."

Pub Date: 11/18/97

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