Appeal by families stalls landfill expansion

May 13, 2007|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Reporter

A last-minute appeal from residents opposed the expansion of Harford's only county-run solid waste landfill will halt the process to issue permits for the project.

"The permit cannot move forward," said Horatio Tablada, waste management administrator at the Maryland Department of the Environment, the permitting agency.

The county must have the permit to commence with expansion of the Harford Waste Disposal Center, a 60-acre facility in Street that is expected to reach capacity by the end of next year. If the $3 million addition, planned for 77 acres adjoining the landfill's receiving area, is not completed by early 2009, Harford might have to ship its trash out of the county, officials say.

The county received state approval last month that would have become final Friday had there been no appeal.

Tablada said Friday he had not seen the appeal. MDE had addressed many issues during several public hearings on the expansion, he said. The state can decide to dismiss the appeal or refer it to the Office of Administrative Hearings, a process that could take a year, he said.

Three families, whose homes overlook the landfill, paid an Owings Mills attorney $1,000 to file the appeal on their behalf. They based the appeal on concerns about environmental issues, effects on property values, and quality-of-life considerations.

"The issues are blatant and the impacts are horrendous," said attorney Richard Klein.

Frank Henderson, Harford's deputy director of environmental affairs, said it was premature to comment on the appeal but called the residents' concerns shallow.

"They are grasping at straws, but this is not my determination to make," he said. "It's MDE's move. They will have to determine whether the material presented warrants a hearing."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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