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Topsoil supplier to take yard waste from Carroll County residents for free while Hoods Mill Landfill is closed

Woodbine’s Hoods Mill Landfill remains closed in Carroll County as officials weigh whether to siphon thousands from a tightened budget to prepare it for reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the county announced Thursday that it has struck a deal with the landfill’s neighboring topsoil supplier that will allow residents to drop off their yard waste at the company for free.

Starting Nov. 7, WeCare Denali — a compost, soil and mulch manufacturer located nearby the Hoods Mill Landfill — will accept residential yard waste from those who live in the county at their operation on Kabik Court, which juts off from Hoods Mill Road, near Md. 97.

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Residents will be able to drop off yard waste at the location from 7 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Commercial yard waste haulers will still be charged by the company, Cliff Engle, the county’s solid waste bureau chief, informed the Board of County Commissions at its meeting Thursday morning.

The county is also currently working with WeCare Denali to establish a screening process that will allow only Carroll County residents to drop off their yard waste for free — an especially significant consideration, as the facility is located near the county’s border with Howard County, said Stephen Wantz, the board’s president. Residents may be asked to bring along a tax or utility bill or present their driver’s license.

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The announcement comes after the commissioners were informed in August that pricey upgrades would be needed at the Hoods Mill Landfill for it to be allowed to reopen. After the landfill — one of the two in the county — closed in April due to concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic, an inspection by the Maryland Department of the Environment raised issues with a practice that’s been in place at the facility since around 2014.

Before the landfill’s closure, residents would typically leave their waste, recyclables or yard waste materials on an asphalt pad on the facility’s grounds, which MDE said allowed litter to blow away and waste runoff to reach streams.

The cheapest option to rectify the issue — purchasing large, wheeled roll-off boxes in which residents could drop off their waste, and the county could then haul to the Northern Landfill in Westminster — could the county cost an estimated $57,000 or even more, Engle told the commissioners at a meeting they held in August.

Engle also told the commissioners that if the county wanted to save money, it could close the landfill, freeing up personnel and funding that could be redirected to the Northern Landfill, and avoiding reopening and operational costs. In May, commissioners adopted a budget for fiscal 2021 that was $1.2 million less than the previous year’s budget.

At their Thursday meeting, the commissioners and Engle expressed gratitude to WeCare Denali for the company’s willingness to accommodate a deal with the county. Commissioner Eric Bouchat, who represents District 4 where the landfill is located, said he’s been getting emails from residents who have raised concerns about the facility’s closure. He said he hopes the county’s deal with the company will satisfy some citizens’ needs.

“Hopefully this turns out to be a win-win for everyone,” he said.

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