Bill could block county oil recycling plant

Proposal would require zoning commissioner OK

September 08, 2004|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Two Baltimore County councilmen introduced a bill last night that would require a zoning commissioner's approval for oil recycling facilities in areas zoned for manufacturing - a move that could prevent a North Point plant from operating.

The proposal comes about a month after county officials rescinded their approval for U.S. Filter Recovery Services to operate an oil recycling facility in North Point.

Although the company says it only recycles oil, county officials argued that the company's plan amounted to "refining" oil, requiring the company to seek a special exception from a zoning commissioner. Hearings on the project are set for Sept. 22 and Sept. 27.

The proposed legislation would specify that "recycling of oil" is among the operations that require a special exception on properties zoned for heavy manufacturing.

"We want to make it clear," said Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, a Fullerton Democrat, who introduced the bill. "We hope this will be an environmental protection for Baltimore County and a safeguard for residents who live next to those zones."

Residents of the Wells McComas community oppose the plant in their neighborhood, saying they are already contending with foul odors from the Back River Sewage Treatment Plant and industrial pollution.

William D. Shaughnessy Jr., a lawyer for U.S. Filter Recovery Services, asked the council to withdraw the bill, saying that "it's wrong to change the rules of the game" after the company had spent $700,000 on its new plant and had moved from Sparrows Point, where it had the same zoning designation.

The bill, co-sponsored by John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat who was not present at last night's meeting, is scheduled to be discussed at the council's Sept. 28 work session. The council is to vote on the measure Oct. 4.

In other business, the council approved several changes to the "planned unit development" process that was overhauled in April. The process exempts builders from some development rules if the county deems a project, such as senior housing, to be in the public interest.

The changes include a provision that office projects are eligible for the process, said Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat and the original bill's prime sponsor.

Councilman Vincent J. Gardina's proposal to lower speed limits in alleys from the state-mandated 30 mph to 15 mph was voted down 5-to-1 by the council. Councilmen raised questions about the requirement to post speed limit signs and how effectively the speed limit could be enforced.

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