In an effort to prevent a large scale trash transfer station from being opened on a county-owned site on Route 7 in Joppa, Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie has been shopping around a new version of a proposal first broached earlier this year: shipping county garbage directly to a disposal site outside the county.
Speaking Monday at a regular meeting of the Joppa/Joppatowne Community Council, Guthrie said he presented a plan last month to his county council colleagues under which garbage gathered in Harford County would be taken in by the Honeygo Run Reclamation Center in the Perry Hall - White Marsh area in Baltimore County.
"It's a great idea," Guthrie said, adding, "We won't have to deal with [the waste], and we don't have to spend $30 million in taxpayer money" on a trash transfer station the county has proposed for the former Coleman Plecker World of Golf site on Route 7 in Joppa.
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Since it was proposed over the winter, the proposed waste transfer station has increasingly drawn angry complaints from the community, and public meetings on the subject have drawn crowds of protesters.
The county administration, which purchased the Plecker property for $2.9 million in 2011 without having it appraised, has been scrambling to find a way to deal with county trash since negotiations with the Army over upgrading the Magnolia Waste to Energy Plant broke down more than a year ago. Local officials have presumed the waste to energy plant, which burns most of Harford County's garbage and sells the steam energy to the Army for use on Aberdeen Proving Ground, will be closed within a few years.
Speaking in September at a meeting of the Bush River Community Council, Guthrie said the incinerator is expected to close in 2016, though the property is under lease through 2019. Tearing down the plant, which is expected to cost $3.8 million, is to be completed between when the facility ceases operation and when the lease runs out in 2019, Guthrie said in September.
Ash from the waste to energy plant had been disposed of in the Scarboro Landfill in Street, but that facility doesn't have sufficient capacity to become a long term solution to the county's waste disposal needs if the Waste to Energy plant isn't functioning.
The proposed Joppa transfer station is seen by the administration of County Executive David R. Craig as part of a long term solution that involves the county's private garbage collectors dumping trash there and other haulers taking that trash to permanent disposal sites outside the county.
It remains to be seen where those disposal sites would be outside of Harford County. When the notion of having private haulers truck trash directly to Baltimore County, cutting out the Joppa station stop, has been proposed in the past, the Craig Administration has been cool to the idea.
As for Guthrie's specific proposal to work out a deal to send Harford trash to the private Honeygo Run Reclamation Center, the Craig Administration has no official position.
Speaking this week, County Government Spokesman Robert Thomas said: "All options are being considered. Nothing has been ruled off the table at this time."
The county council is likely to act on any proposals to truck trash directly out of the county when it considers revisions to the county's solid waste management plan expected to be presented by the administration in the coming weeks.
The Honeygo Run Reclamation Center is owned by waste disposal giant Republic Services, which owns a range of disposal sites, waste collection services, trash transfer stations and related operations.
Most of Harford County's residents contract individually with private waste firms, with the largest being Harford Sanitation Service, which is owned by another giant waste disposal firm, Waste Industries.
As for what would happen to the Route 7 former-Plecker property, Guthrie said in September when addressing the Bush River Community Council, it would likely end up being converted for use as a waste transfer station for use by individual county residents rather than by waste hauling firms.
He said this would be regarded as the "lesser of two evils."
Also mentioned at the Monday meeting of the Joppa-Joppatowne Community Council was the proposed new Walmart in the Plumtree Road area of Bel Air. Guthrie, who opposes the Walmart, told meeting attendees how he was surprised to find a petition supporting the new store in his email inbox Monday afternoon.
"I thought I had this thing all figured out," Guthrie said. "We've had tons of meetings, discussions and e-mails, all against it."
According to Guthrie, the petition contained more than 1,000 signatures in favor of Walmart relocating from its current location in Abingdon to the Plumtree Road area.
The county Development Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17, is the next step in the process to build the new Walmart. The meeting will be at 9 a.m. in the Harford County Council chambers at 212 S. Bond St. in Bel Air.
The Joppa/Joppatowne Community Council meets on the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Southern Precinct of the Harford County Sherriff's Office.
Jim Kennedy contributed to this story.