Joppa residents vow to keep up fight against waste facility

Joppa-area residents vowed to continue their fight against a waste transfer station in their community, and a Congressional candidate's spokesman promised to get more state support on the residents' side during a community council meeting Monday.

Community council member Gloria Moon urged residents to again "fill the room" during one of two upcoming public hearings on the 2013 Harford County budget. One will be May 2 at Bel Air High School and the other May 9 at Havre de Grace High School; both are at 7 p.m.

At Monday's community council meeting at the new Harford County Sheriff's Office Southern Precinct on Route 40, some 40 residents came out to discuss the proposed Route 7 waste facility.

Several said they were unhappy with Harford County Executive David Craig's recent comments in The Aegis that the debate over where to get rid of the county's trash in the future is a "waste of energy" and that the proposed site in Joppa is the best one to solve the problem.

Moon, who is also a member of the county council's citizen budget advisory board, said Craig's proposed 2013 budget is the first time the Joppa site has been specifically listed in the capital budget as the place to build the waste facility. She said the way the project was done sends a terrible message.

"You have your county government saying, 'We're going to do this here, we don't care who lives here and we're sorry you even know about it,'" she said. "If they can do it to us in Joppa, they're going to do it in Bel Air, in Forest Hill, in Darlington."

Community council chairwoman Paula Mullis said she met with Craig recently over coffee and told him she was "very unappreciative" of the government representatives sent to present the county's proposal for the facility at a meeting at Joppatowne High School in March.

"He sent the most discourteous, disrespectful group of people to come to talk to us," Mullis said, adding they spoke to the crowd "as if we are absolute morons" and that county spokesman Bob Thomas "talked to us as though we were 5 years old."

Craig replied that Thomas always talks to him like that, Mullis said.

"Bob Thomas asked how long I was going to let the question-and-answer period go on. I said, these people have waited a long time," Mullis said. "I thought the tone of the audience was very respectful."

"Craig was apologetic, but I just said, 'I needed to tell you, this was a dog-and-pony show.' I thought they were arrogant, if nothing else," she said.

Mullis thought Craig's interview with The Aegis was "even more insulting."

Jacobs supports residents

One Congressional candidate is taking notice.

Mike Kalinski, of State Sen. Nancy Jacobs' office, said the senator, who is running for the Second District Congressional seat, is on the residents' side.

Kalinski said he has requested a traffic study and survey from the State Highway Administration along the Route 7 area that seems likely to come to fruition in May. He also asked the Maryland Department of the Environment to conduct a survey determining what type of property the proposed site is, including if it is a non-tidal wetland.

"We had our [mailboxes] flood with phone calls, flooded with e-mails," Kalinski said. "She [Jacobs] is really, really concerned, and we need to hear from you. We need you to call us, we need you to e-mail us, we need whatever information you can get. I think once Nancy Jacobs gets on board with this, everybody else will get on board, because this ain't right."

Kalinski said Jacobs plans to bring community leaders and county officials together, as well.

"Might as well get it over with, once we have SHA willing to work with us," he said.

Traffic concerns

Traffic concerns again came up from residents in the audience. They cited problems like too many trucks and the possibility of slowed response time from fire and ambulance services.

Vince Rabenau said traffic has gotten even worse since Wawa opened on Mountain Road near the I-s95 interchange.

With a waste transfer station around the corner, he said, "it's going to be absolute chaos."

Barbara Metzbower agreed it is already a problem.

"There's at least a truck a minute going up our road right now," she said.

Carolyn Hicks said residents need to keep the issue in the public eye and encouraged them to ask people in other parts of the county to write to The Aegis or government officials if they believe they will also be affected by increased traffic in the Route 7 area.

The council board discussed fleshing out a Facebook page to put their complaints in one place.

Rabenau said: "It's got to become viral, it really does, and I think we have the ability to do this."

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