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Councilman still lobbying to keep Joppa transfer station out of Harford waste plan

The latest tactic to prevent Harford County government from building and operating a trash transfer station on Route 7 in Joppa, on the property that was once home to a miniature golf operation, is to persuade the county executive and his administration to not include the site in a forthcoming update of the county's solid waste management plan.

Speaking Monday night at a meeting of the Joppa-Joppatowne Community Council held at the Sheriff's Office Southern Precinct building, Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie said the alternative he and others are trying to persuade County Executive David R. Craig to accept is to have the county contract with a private waste disposal company in White Marsh, where the Harford trash would be taken directly by local trash hauling companies.

People in the Joppa-Joppatowne area have been strongly opposed for months to a county plan to open a trash transfer station at the site of the former Coleman Plecker's World of Golf site on Route 7 near the Route 152 interchange. Though long-term plans for dealing with garbage collected in Harford County are ambiguous, the Scarboro Landfill is too remote and too small to handle a large volume of trash and the county's Magnolia waste-to-energy incinerator on the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground is slated to be shut down by 2016, although the county has asked the Army, which owns the site, to extend the facility's life.

A variety of regional waste disposal projects have been discussed, but to date none has gotten beyond the discussion stages. The Joppa transfer station is seen as the place county garbage haulers would transfer garbage to larger vehicles to be moved to whatever final disposal option comes into being.

Asked by some of the 20 so people who turned out for the community council meeting Monday if he has the votes to reject including the Joppa site in the solid waste management plan, Guthrie, a Democrat representing the Edgewood and Joppa areas, said his plan is to figure out a way to make sure no vote ends up being necessary.

He said he has been trying to convince the Craig administration to keep the Joppa site out of the county's solid waste management plan, which was supposed to have been updated in late 2012 but isn't likely to come before the county council until February at the earliest.

As an alternative way of getting rid of the county's trash, Guthrie said he has been trying to convince the administration to go with another course of action when it comes to disposal. One such plan he outlined would be for the county to contract with the private Republic Services, which operates the Honeygo Run Reclamation Center in White Marsh.

Guthrie was also asked by several people about plans to have the county-owned miniature golf site turned into a recreation center. He said the owner of a sporting complex business is expected to make a presentation to the county council, but he stressed alternative uses for the property are secondary to making sure it does not end up in the solid waste management plan as a transfer station site.

Pressed further about whether other members of the county council would vote to keep the Joppa site out of the solid waste management plan, Guthrie said he isn't entirely sure because votes promised in private sometimes change when it comes time to cast them in public.

That problem of politics, he said, is why his approach is to work with the administration to keep the site from being in the solid waste plan.

Because of council redistricting last year, the neighborhood around the Plecker property is due to move from Guthrie's district to the neighboring district currently represented by Councilman Joe Woods, following the 2014 county election.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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