Arundel plant places property in easement

6 acres bordering creek won't be developed

August 23, 2002|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

An asphalt manufacturing plant in northeastern Anne Arundel County has placed 6 acres of its property bordering Cabin Branch Creek in a permanent conservation easement with the North County Land Trust, officials from the trust announced yesterday.

Founders of the 2-year-old land trust - who opposed the building of the plant by Bitumar UAS Inc. three years ago - say the acquisition represents an unusual partnership between environmentalists and a business in an area zoned for heavy industrial use.

"The fact that a company in a W-3 zone can see their way to say, `Hey, we border a waterfront and we're going to watch out for the waterway here' - I think that's an important statement," said Marcia Drenzyk, a community activist and treasurer of the North County Land Trust.

Cabin Branch Creek, which runs from Linthicum through Brooklyn Park and Curtis Bay, is a tributary of the Patapsco River.

Drenzyk was a vocal opponent of Bitumar when it announced plans in 1999 to build an asphalt manufacturing plant at 6000 Pennington Ave., at the Anne Arundel-Baltimore line near Curtis Bay. She and other residents objected to the concentration of heavy industry in the area, which for years has been affected by poor air quality.

Two years ago, Drenzyk said, officials with Bitumar - a Canadian-based company - indicated that they were not interested in developing a wooded portion of the property that contains wetlands and were willing to consider placing the land in a conservation easement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Bitumar continues to own the property, but development on it is permanently restricted. The North County Land Trust and the Maryland Environmental Trust hold the easement jointly, Drenzyk said.

"Not only will this conservation easement help preserve sensitive habitat near the Bitumar facility, it will help to protect the entire Chesapeake Bay by conserving the crucial buffer around one of its highly stressed tributaries," said the Rev. James Kirk, president of the North County Land Trust.

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