Court upholds landfill ruling Appellate panel sides with builder on rubble facility

March 26, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County has lost another court battle with a developer who wants to build a rubble landfill in western Anne Arundel County over the objections of residents and county planners.

The Court of Special Appeals upheld yesterday an Anne Arundel Circuit Court order that the County Council must include the proposed landfill in its plan for managing solid waste. That step is required before Warren Halle, developer of the proposed Chesapeake Terrace in Odenton, can get a state permit for the landfill.

Halle is suing the county for at least $10 million in damages, claiming the County Council and county officials have wrongfully prevented him from getting the permit.

When Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr. ruled in March last year that council members had "arbitrarily" pulled the proposed rubble fill from the waste-management plan and ordered them to put it back in, county lawyers appealed the decision.

Senior Assistant County Attorney John F. Breads Jr. said the county will appeal yesterday's ruling.

"We will seek review in the Court of Appeals based on the importance of this issue," he said.

In October, the County Council defied Greene's ruling by voting for the second time in three years to exclude the proposed rubble landfill from the county's long-range plan for disposing of solid waste.

Steven P. Resnick, the lawyer for Halle's National Waste Managers Inc., could not be reached for comment yesterday. The lawsuit was put on hold while the county appealed the preliminary ruling.

Halle wants to open a rubble landfill within a 481-acre tract surrounded by small, older communities including Wilson Town and Woodwardville, south of Odenton. Neighbors have been fighting the project for 10 years, fearing hundreds of dump trucks daily on their narrow roads, contamination of drinking wells and other environmental damage.

"We haven't lost yet," Katharina DeHaas, president of the Forks of the Patuxent Improvement Association, said yesterday.

While the court battle has dragged on, DeHaas and other anti-landfill activists have been campaigning to change state law and county policies to give residents and local officials more control over the approval of landfills.

A House of Delegates committee and the Senate have approved two bills that would give counties early control over which landfill proposals move on in the application process with the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has appointed a task force of residents from around the state, representatives of the landfill industry, county officials and MDE officials to recommend additional changes in state landfill policy.

The special exception granted Chesapeake Terrace in 1993 and upheld in 1996 after another court battle expired in August, said John Morris, a spokesman for the Department of Public Works.

As a result, it is unclear what effect the Court of Special Appeals ruling might have on the project.

Without a special exception, the proposal does not meet county land-use requirements, one of the conditions for MDE approval. It also is not listed in the county's plan for solid waste management, though a letter the county sent to the MDE under court order in August states that it is "in conformity" with the plan.

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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