Harford scraps plans for new recycling plant

Neighbors opposed site because they said it was too close to three schools

March 07, 2004|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Plans for a bitterly opposed recycling center near two elementary schools and a middle school in Magnolia have been spiked, according to county officials.

The so-called Wiggins project, a plan to locate a waste recycling plant at the Harford Sands Inc. property off Fort Hoyle Road, will not be included in the county's new solid waste plan, said Frank Henderson, deputy director of environmental affairs for the Department of Public Works.

"It won't be in the plan at that site," he said. "If we find a suitable site elsewhere, it may be considered again."

Jerald R. Wheeler, director of public works, said the project was up against too much community opposition.

"It's not going to happen," Harford County Council President Robert S. Wagner said at the end of Tuesday's council meeting, which about 100 Joppatowne and Magnolia residents attended and where more than 20 pleaded with council members not to approve the recycling plant.

During the meeting, County Executive James M. Harkins' administration withdrew its proposed solid waste management plan, which included the Wiggins project. Nancy Giorno, an attorney for the county, said a new plan would be submitted to the council in about two months.

"The [original] plan is gone," Giorno said. "We are starting over."

"It is my understanding that the Wiggins project will not be in the new plan," Wagner said after meeting with administration officials last week.

Bob Dillon, president of the Joppa Magnolia Civic Association, welcomed the news. "That's great," he said. "This is wonderful news for the people in this area."

Dillon wants the county to state in its plan that the Harford Sands site is not suitable for any solid waste facility. "It's too close to the schools," he said, referring to Magnolia middle and elementary schools and Riverside Elementary School. All three are within 1,600 feet of the property.

He said it was also too close to homes. "We have approximately 40 homes contiguous to the property," Dillon said.

Councilman Lance C. Miller praised the administration for pulling the plan. "It is quite obvious that is not the place to have a dump," he said. "If the administration hadn't removed it, the council would have. The people were upset, and they had a good right to be upset.

"Recycling is a good thing," he added, "as long as it is not a detriment to a community."

Harry Mitzel said he moved to Magnolia from a home near Scarboro Landfill -- where he grew up -- because of health concerns. He said there seemed to be a high rate of cancer among his Scarboro neighbors.

He had tears in his eyes as he talked of his mother's cancer and losing his sister to the disease.

He expressed his suspicions that the landfill was a factor in the illnesses of his family members. "All I ask is please do the right thing," he said to council members.

Devon Coats of Joppatowne said the county could call the project whatever it wanted, "but it's a garbage dump. I'm concerned about the kids who play in that area and the dust in the air from a garbage dump."

Harold Wiggins, president and owner of Paterson Environmental Services LLC, the New York company that wanted to open the recycling plant at the 78-acre Harford Sands site, said he still hopes to be included in the county's plan.

"I would like them to understand what we are all about," he said.

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