Baltimore Co. in court seeking stump-dump injunction County trying to keep James Jett from adding stumps to fire site.


The effort to stop James Jett from placing any more tree stumps at his 126-acre Christmas tree farm in Granite was to continue today in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Yesterday, two county fire officials testified that Jett has placed two huge, new piles of tree stumps dangerously close to the old stump dump, which caught fire in February and continues to burn.

Chief Elwood H. Banister Jr. and Deputy Chief John F. O'Neill both said there is a possibility that sparks or embers from the existing fire might ignite the newer piles of stumps.

O'Neill, who is in charge of the county's fire prevention bureau, called conditions at Jett's farm "a serious fire hazard."

And the recent spell of hot, dry weather "has greatly increased the potential for fire on the new pile," O'Neill added.

Baltimore County Attorney H. Emslie Parks is asking Judge James T. Smith Jr. to grant the county an injunction that would prohibit Jett from bringing any more tree stumps onto his property.

Michael Tanczyn, attorney for Jett, said yesterday he expected to call at least seven witnesses in his client's defense, including Jett himself.

At issue is whether Jett has violated an agreement that called for him to maintain a 100-foot buffer between any new piles of stumps and the old pile, as well as to mulch and remove any new stumps brought onto the property within 72 hours.

O'Neill testified that Jett was complying with the agreement until early May, when a huge number of trucks brought in tons of stumps, too many for Jett to mulch and carry away with 72 hours.

These newer stumps now consist of two huge mounds, one 12 feet high, 75 feet wide and as long as a football field, that are close to the old stump dump.

Part of the testimony centered around how county officials, who have been inspecting Jett's tree farm twice a day since firefighters gave up trying to extinguish the blaze, are able to tell which stumps are new.

Tanczyn suggested, in cross-examination, that a clear space could be filled with stumps, those stumps could be mulched and carted away, then newer stumps brought into the same space.

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