Responding to complaints from Odenton residents who awoke yesterday to a pungent smell, the county Health Department warned a company clearing land one mile away not to burn brush piles when a strong wind is blowing.
Several people living about a mile from the excavation site, located behind the Navamar Corp. on Route 170, said they had toclose their windows and stay indoors because the smell from the firewas nauseating.
"It was so heavy I couldn't see," said Judith Nowottnick, who lives in the 1900 block of Winer Road. "I got outraged that I had to smell this."
Nowottnick said her children woke herup yesterday morning wondering what the "stinky smoke" was that had invaded the upstairsof their home.
"Here we have a nice day and a nice breeze and we have this stench coming in," she said.
Then her 7-year-old son, Edward, who is sensitive to chemicals and highly susceptible to allergies, complained of a headache. Nowottnick said the boy's eyes became bloodshot, and he had to take medication before going to school.
SoNowottnick, the sister of Pat Wellford, president of the Odenton Improvement Association, started making some phone calls. She found out she wasn't the only person in the area disturbed by the cloud of smoke,and she got the county to temporarily stop the company from burningthe brush.
Health Department spokesman Evelyn Stein said Stocketts Excavation Inc., based in Annapolis, should not have been burning piles of brush -- including tree stumps and other vegetation -- in a strong wind.
The company, which could not be reached for comment yesterday, received its original burn permit in February. It was renewed in May and expires July 7. Yesterday's complaints were the first the county has received about the burning, Stein said.
Two projects are being built in the area. One is Arundel Crossing, a warehouse park on 181 acres. The other is the state's Route 32 expansion. Stein said she did not knowwhich project the company was working on.
She said that the company does not have to put buffers around the burning site since no homes sit within 1,500 feet. But she also said the county has recommended that the company consolidate all its piles of vegetation into one.
Wellford questioned why the company wanted to burn the tree stumps instead of sending them to a rubble landfill.
"This is the first cool day we've had in weeks," she complained, "and these people can't open their windows."
Dorothy Hammond, who lives in the 1200 block of Monterey Avenue, said, "To my way of thinking, it is criminal for them to issue a permit. The health department should be helping us and they are the ones issuing the permits."