Land environmental controls tightened

April 10, 2008

Following a report by the Anne Arundel County auditor that questioned the purchase of Odenton land where hundreds of tons of trash was dumped, County Executive John R. Leopold yesterday announced he is ordering new environmental controls over land acquisitions and capital projects.

County officials, he said, must conduct a full environmental impact review of any such projects before accepting gifts or buying or leasing land.

County auditor Teresa Sutherland said in her March 24 report that county officials knew that plastic waste was strewn across property planned for a link of the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Trail as long ago as 2002, but never conducted an environmental review of the site.

County officials acquired the property with state Open Space money in 2004 and since last year have spent more than $47,000 removing 230 tons of solid plastic wires, melted plastic material, plastic bags and powder. An additional $38,000 is needed to finish the job, according to a purchase order submitted last month.

"My first priority was to get this area cleaned up," said Leopold.

On Monday night, County Councilman Jamie Benoit, who represents the area, proposed legislation to require council approval and an environmental study for any potential land deal. The legislation also would require the county executive to certify that an environmental study was completed.

He requested the audit after learning of the dump site in January, and county officials have since been working with the Maryland Department of the Environment on the cleanup.

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