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Stump dump owner in court for fires


The operator of a stump dump that has been smoldering for nearly six months was in Circuit Court in Towson again yesterday, and residents who live in the area continued to protest outside the courthouse.

James F. Jett is attempting to prove that he is in compliance with a May 30 court ruling by Circuit Judge James T. Smith Jr.

But attorneys for Baltimore County, who are seeking a contempt charge against Mr. Jett, argued that he is in violation of the court ruling.

Mr. Jett's stump dump and tree farm, in the 8700 block of Dogwood Road in western Baltimore County, has been burning since Feb. 2.

County Attorney H. Emslie Parks filed a motion alleging that Mr. Jett be found in contempt of court because he failed to meet the fire safety conditions specified in the May 30 order.

That ruling by Judge Smith required Mr. Jett, by June 2, to limit the height of any new stump piles to 12 feet, to keep a 100-foot buffer between new stumps and the burning material and to dispose of any new debris that wasn't burning.

Judge Smith had also cautioned Mr. Jett to "start making inroads into that burned pile, both for the safety of yourself as well as for the community."

During yesterday's daylong hearing, Mr. Parks showed aerial and on-site photos that he said were of new piles of debris causing a fire hazard.

Robert Meekins, a resident who lives near the stump dump, said he and another neighbor took pictures of Mr. Jett's property showing debris being burned.

Michael P. Tanczyn, Mr. Jett's attorney, argued that the stump dump owner is following the judge's order.

He argued that the area is much safer now than it was before the court order. He also said Mr. Jett has cooperated with all requests made by the county fire department.

Before the hearing, about 60 neighbors protested outside the court. "I smell it, and my 'smeller' isn't very good," said Robert Behler who lives in the 300 block of Waveland Road. "When the wind blows southeast, we really get it," he said.

The hearing is scheduled to continue tomorrow.

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