Harford council delays action on yard waste bill

November 05, 2003|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

The Harford County Council delayed last night action for a week on legislation spelling out where residents can dump yard waste, and imposing a $1,000 fine and six months in jail for those who choose to flout the rules.

The council held the bill over for amendments suggested by member Robert G. Cassilly to detail fines and hours of operation at recycling centers more clearly.

The bill calls for disposing yard trim only at the county's disposal sites on Tollgate Road in Bel Air and at the Scarboro Landfill in Street.

Councilman Richard C. Slutzky asked Department of Public Works Director Gerald Wheeler what hours the two staffed sites would be open. Wheeler said they plan for both sites to be open seven days a week, dawn to dusk, until winter, when hours at the Tollgate Road site would likely be decreased to midday to dusk, weekends only.

Public Works official Frank Henderson also said gates, additional lighting and cameras would help curtail illegal dumping.

The bill follows the county's announcement in August that it was closing several yard-waste disposal sites around the county, in Bel Air, Abingdon and Fallston, as a cost-cutting measure. Officials estimated that the program was costing the county nearly $500,000 a year, in part because residents dumped garbage and other nonyard waste and some commercial haulers dumped refuse at the sites illegally.

Another site, at Kroh's Nursery in Churchville, was kept open after Tropical Storm Isabel, but it is scheduled to close at the end of this month.

Before last night's meeting, Council President Robert S. Wagner - who helped initiate the yard-waste recycling program in the early 1990s after the state banned such waste from landfills - reiterated his criticism of how the county is handling problems with the recycling program.

Wagner said rather than scrap the popular program, the better solution would be to "throw a little more money to it and make it a better program. You don't take it away - that just didn't look like the way to fix it."

Wagner said he doubts that people in Edgewood, Joppatowne and other southern Harford communities will drive 30 miles to the Street landfill. More likely, he said, will be an increase in roadside dumping.

"Undoubtedly, you're going to see some of that occur," he said.

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