When was the last time you saw an elected official make a decision based solely on what is best for his or her constituents?
It isn't something one sees often, especially in today's political atmosphere where only party affiliation matters, not the issue at hand or how detrimental or beneficial the outcome may be to the public.
Well, the citizens of Harford County are being given the opportunity right now to see first hand that there are still a few elected officials who will listen to their constituents' concerns, investigate those concerns, and then work to do the right thing regardless of the politics involved.
One is a Democrat, a long-term County Councilman, Dion Guthrie, and the other is a Republican, fairly new to the County Council, Joseph Woods.
The community of Joppa went to these gentlemen with concerns regarding a solid waste transfer station that the county government is attempting to establish on a property in the 800 block of Philadelphia Road, in the midst of a predominantly residential community.
They looked at the issues, did their own investigation, decided that the concerns of the citizens were valid, and have worked together tirelessly for months to prevent this project. They are to be commended for all they are doing for our community.
There are many reasons why the proposed location should not be considered for a solid waste transfer station. The county purchased the property in secret and without an appraisal for what appears to be 2 to 3 times more than its value and then refused for many months to meet with Joppa citizens to discuss or explain intentions.
The property is surrounded by residences some of which have been occupied by the same families most of their lives. Property values would plummet; there could be damage to nearby wells and septic systems as well as possible rodent harborage.
A transfer station will generate hundreds of trips per day by dump trucks bringing in loads of trash and tractor-trailer rigs loading up and leaving with the sorted trash. Philadelphia Road is a narrow, two-lane road with no shoulders or maneuverability for large trucks to enter and leave the site safely.
Stacked dump trucks and tractor-trailer rigs waiting to enter and leave the site will interfere with, and create a dangerous situation for ambulances and fire trucks leaving the nearby fire station and will reduce their response time. The trucks will cause backups at the nearby intersection of Mountain and Philadelphia roads where traffic now stalls under ordinary circumstances.
There are known wetlands and Natural Resource District on the property which, in the past, have greatly limited the use of the site. The subject property has not been accepted into the Solid Waste Management Plan, however, there are several already-approved sites in the plan where the transfer station could be placed; a private business has offered to undertake the establishment of a new transfer station on an already-approved site at no cost to the county, but the county said no.
There are many questions which must be answered and issues investigated regarding the county's obstinate position on placing a solid waste transfer station at this particular location, including why other sites were not considered even though they are already approved in the Solid Waste Management Plan; the role of Maryland Environmental Services, headed by James Harkins, our former County Executive; and the controversy regarding the county's lack of agreement with the Army for the Waste to Energy plant at APG.
I thank the many Harford citizens who voiced their opposition to this site at the budget hearing on May 2, the state officials who agreed with us, and especially Councilmen Guthrie and Woods for their ongoing efforts to protect Joppa from this bad choice on the part of the county executive. We must find a better solution and waste no more money on this particular location.