Neighbors opposing asphalt plant

Manufacturer eyes Annapolis Junction

March 21, 2000|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Raising concerns among neighbors who say it wasn't what they had in mind for western Anne Arundel County, a sand and gravel company has applied to state officials to build an asphalt manufacturing plant in Annapolis Junction.

Laurel Sand and Gravel, which owns the property off Brock Bridge Road near Route 32 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, wants to open a 400-ton-per-hour asphalt plant to complement its asphalt manufacturing operations at a plant in Prince George's County.

The plant would produce blacktop for roads and rooftops. A similar plant proposed by another company for an area near Curtis Bay in north Anne Arundel County was hotly contested last year by area residents before the county gave its approval.

Residents of nearby Russett and neighbors who have been working with the county on a new development plan for the community say asphalt manufacturing isn't in their plans for their back yards.

"We need to learn a lot about it -- air pollution, noise pollution," said Ray Smallwood, a longtime resident of Maryland City and president of its civic association. "I really don't think this is the area for it."

Jeanne Mignon, who heads the Jessup-Maryland City small-area planning committee, echoed Smallwood's concerns.

"It will not enhance western Anne Arundel County in the directions citizens would like to see it go," Mignon said. The planning committee is one of 16 groups created by County Executive Janet S. Owens to guide land-use and zoning in the county. The group's zoning recommendations will be incorporated into the county's general development plan.

"We're proposing a mixed use," for the area, Mignon said. "We're looking to see a small community -- some residential, perhaps some light industrial. [The plant] is certainly incongruous with what our plan is."

According to state records, Laurel Sand and Gravel applied to the Maryland Department of the Environment's Air and Radiation Management Administration in late January. The company did not have to overcome any county zoning hurdles because the land is approved for heavy industrial uses, a county spokesman said.

The $500,000 plant would be equipped to process 400 tons of asphalt per hour -- the equivalent of 20 dump trucks -- and will use a baghouse to collect dust and exhaust, according to the application documents.

About 75 percent of the plant's operations would take place during the summer and fall, although it would be used year round, records show. Construction is scheduled to begin in September and continue through next March.

The plant will be built on 5 to 6 acres of the hundreds owned by the sand and gravel company, said Tim Schmidt, director of land resources for the Laurel company.

Proximity to major roadways figured in choosing the site, he said.

"It's a good location for the site," Schmidt said. "The trucks do not go through a residential area."

Residents say they're more worried about the effects of having a plant near their homes, especially if it smells. They also fear pollution to the Little Patuxent River on the southern end of the company's property -- the only thing separating the plant from a part of the Russett community.

Schmidt said residents have nothing to fear, adding that the company's president, Ron Matovcik also lives in Russett near the river. The plant's environmental controls would reduce odor and are more strict than what is called for in state air quality regulations, he said.

"It's as far away from the homes as you can get," Schmidt said. "They won't even notice it's up and going when it's there."

MDE will hold an informational meeting April 5 at the Maryland City volunteer fire station on Laurel Fort Meade Road to discuss the application.

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