Community groups and county officials are opposing a Silver Spring-based company's plans to develop a rubble landfill in Odenton's Forks of Patuxent area.
Halle Cos. needs a zoning waiver for a 220-acre landfill it wants to build within a 480-acre parcel off Patuxent Road. Company representatives, civic leaders and county officials presented their views during a hearing Friday before Administrative Hearing Officer Thomas Ross.
County officials faulted the developer for not adequately addressing the amount of traffic a landfill would bring to the area and for wanting to work close to residential areas.
Nearby homeowners listed concerns ranging from quality of life to health issues. They complained that their small communities are being overrun and overlooked by developers.
But Halle representatives said they felt confident that they have met all concerns raised by residents and the county.
Halle needs a special exception to build the landfill and a zoning variance to allow development near homes in Woodwardville and Wilson Town.
"Can anyone argue that a landfill will not affect our qualityof life?" asked Raymond Murdock, who lives on Conway Road, near the proposed fill. "I feel that because we are a minority community, the qualities of our lives are not even being considered."
County Planner Kevin Dooley wants Halle to limit to 250 the
number of trucks entering the landfill a day and refuse to accept out-of-state rubble.
"We do not want this to become a landfill for the entire East Coast," he said, adding he is worried about the 21 homes that border the landfill site.
"There are steep slopes along those properties," he also said. "At some point those slopes need to be addressed, because they are starting to erode beyond the property lines."
Andy Chisholm, a Halle engineer, said that the company has agreed to all of the county's demands -- limiting truck trips to 250 a day and paying to upgrade Patuxent and Conway roads and the intersection at Routes 3 and 424.
He also said the company will not solicit or advertise for rubble from vendors outside the state, but would reserve the right to haul in rubble from Halle's own projects.
Chisholm said Halle wantspermission to work close to homes to shore up steep cliffs and improve the safety of area properties.
The variance will allow the company to fill in that area to make it level and create a 100-foot buffer between the landfill and the
property lines. He said Halle will plant trees, build a roadway to monitor security at the site and erect afence to keep people away.
Chisholm said the area is unsafe.
"Police have staked out the property, and various residents have complained about getting gunfire. Several homes have been hit by shells from people illegally using the property."
The engineer also said Halle will pay to have a county inspector permanently stationed at the landfill to monitor what comes in.
But residents complained that the number of trucks using the landfill will make their neighborhoods unsafe.
Edwin Dosek, president of the Crofton Civic Association, said the intersection of routes 3 and 424 already is a failure. "If it is failed today, then increasing the traffic by one more truck is too much," he said.
Dosek said the company's proposal for adding a turn lane at the intersection is inadequate. "Unless that intersection is taken out of a failed condition, it will be a disaster," he said.
Residents of Woodwardville and Wilson Town, the two mostly black communities nearby, said they don't want to make a racial case out of the issue. They said their community is small, being taken over, and they want it to stop.
"Will our houses shake to death?" asked Bonita Truesdale. "We really love our community. We don't want to makethis a black-white issue. But we are left out a lot because people with money want to come in and take whatwe have.
"I don't want a landfill messing up my life or hurting my children," she said. "I'm notgoing to be pushed out by anybody."
Truesdale said Patuxent Road carries so many trucks now that school buses often get forced off theroad.
"I send my children to school with a prayer hoping that they will come back to me," she said.
Murdock said he will be taking up the issue with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People soon.
Ross, the administrative hearing officer, has 30days from Friday to issue a ruling. If he rules in Halle's favor, the company still has to get approval from state government, a step that requires another public hearing.