Frustrated by almost 15 years of technicalities and delays, opponents of a stump dump in Clarksville moved one step closer yesterday to achieving their goal of shutting down the controversial facility.
The Howard County Planning Board voted unanimously not to reassess a revised plan that would legalize the stump dump operated by farmer Alfred E. Bassler. The board's decision means the case moves to the Board of Appeals, where opponents hope to prevail.
The five-member Planning Board had turned down Bassler's plan to legalize the stump dump and was urged by Bassler's attorney, Thomas E. Lloyd, to reconsider.
"I think the petitioner would be better served if fresh ears heard this case," said Planning Board member Joan Lancos, referring to the Board of Appeals, which is to open a public hearing on the case Oct. 5. "I'm not sure there's a significant difference."
Bassler needs a special exception to legally use 68.7 acres of his 430-acre farm on Sheppard Lane to run a yard-waste composting facility, sawmill and mulch manufacturing operation.
Nearby residents have fought the request, arguing that fires have broken out at the dump and that they have had to endure an overwhelming stench.
Some of the changes that Bassler submitted to the county Department of Planning and Zoning included reducing the proposed hours of operation to from 7 a.m. to 5: 30 p.m.; increasing the number of proposed full-time employees from seven to 12; and increasing the number of berms to buffer the facility from surrounding neighborhoods.
Lloyd told the board that the proposed changes would give the board an opportunity to review its previous decision.
"I don't think the board evaluated the proposal," he said. "I think you heard, `Here's someone who's been doing an activity for 15 years and is now coming to get approvals.' We would like the board to give a fair evaluation."
But David A. Carney, an attorney for Robert and Karin Van Dyke of Clarksville, contended that the Board of Appeals should review Bassler's changes.
"Our preference would not be to come back to the Planning Board," Carney said. "It just adds time to the process."
Although the board agreed with Carney, Lloyd said he was not disappointed by its decision.
"We wanted to tell the board that we were available if they are," Lloyd said. Going to the Board of Appeals "is a lot more economical for us."
The board also delayed a recommendation on a proposal to build a 96-unit assisted-living facility on 3.5 acres in the 9500 block of Baltimore National Pike in Ellicott City.
It postponed the vote until Aug. 26 after Richard B. Talkin, an attorney for the developer, Lewal Partnership, offered to provide the board more details on how the developer would manage storm-water runoff and data showing that construction would not affect wetlands and flood plains.
The concession pleased area homeowners, who were concerned that runoff would flood a small stream running through the property and adjacent communities.
"It's a positive," said Neil Muhlberger, president of Rolling Acres Improvement Association. "The fact is, we want more details."
In other matters, the board unanimously endorsed a plan to build an Amoco gas station, convenience store and car wash on 1.1 acres in the 9200 block of Washington Blvd. in Savage, and a proposal to add a two-story, 2,400-square-foot building to the Childrens' Manor Montessori School in the 4400 block of Montgomery Road in Ellicott City.
Pub Date: 7/30/99