City starts disposing debris near park Baltimore residents fear site will become landfill

August 27, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Dumping of construction debris has begun at the former Gwynns Falls quarry, alarming Southwest Baltimore residents who are threatening to sue the city over the matter.

In December, the city issued a permit to Potts and Callahan Inc. of Baltimore to dump concrete, bricks, dirt, sand and asphalt at 2900 W. Baltimore St. But neighborhood groups claim that the city pledged to meet with them before allowing the dumping to begin.

Residents living near the park are worried that the site will be turned into a landfill, harming the surrounding 2,000 acres of city parkland.

"My concern is pollution, the environment, our property values and our health," said Helen Quill, 72, president of St. Joseph's Improvement Association. "When do the people have a say over what goes into their communities?"

City officials say they met with the residents earlier in the year and that Potts and Callahan has the necessary permit to begin the dumping. The approval, which allows only construction debris defined as "clean fill," did not require a public hearing.

City Public Works and Housing officials say they've been inspecting the site to assure area residents that the proper materials are being deposited.

"Anything that has gone in there is clean," Housing and Community Development spokesman Zack Germroth said. "And we do want the community's input if there are any concerns on the table."

Potts and Callahan has removed demolition debris from vacant houses being knocked down by the city. The city plans to demolish almost 2,000 vacant homes per year. In the last 30 years, the city's population has dropped by 250,000.

Three other neighborhood associations are challenging the city on the dumping matter: The Carroll Improvement Association, Allendale Community Association and Friends of Gwynn Falls/Leakin Park.

The four groups have solicited the help of the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic. Citing the state's Public Information Act, the clinic is asking the city to provide copies of all documents relating to the issuance of the permit.

In return, city officials have faxed a copy of the permit, which residents say will allow up to 200 trucks per day for 10 years. A permit for a second dumping lot at the quarry is pending.

But Rena I. Steinzor, director of the clinic, said the groups want the city to release all supporting documentation to the permit by the end of the month or they will sue. "What is annoying is that you can get a permit with any public notice," Steinzor said.

City officials intend to meet the residents' documents request, Germroth said.

They also plan to hold additional meetings with the community to ensure that the residents are comfortable with any quarry activity.

"We're relying on their wisdom to tell us what will best work," Germroth said.

Pub Date: 8/27/98

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