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Rehrmann seeks overhaul of environmental laws


The county executive is proposing a complete overhaul of Harford's environmental laws.

So much of the county's environmental code had to be amended to get the county's new trash recycling program started that County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann has decided it's time to rewrite the entire set of laws.

But County Council members and local business owners say the proposals are too vague and need fine-tuning.

Among the proposed changes:

* Junkyards would be required to drain fluids from vehicles before junking them; the fluids would have to be disposed of properly.

* Trash haulers would be required to collect recyclables on one of two weekly pickups of household trash.

* Haulers would be barred from charging for trash removal without the prior consent of a customer. Usually, for new residents who have not yet contracted for trash service, haulers pick up the trash and provide a rate notice that explains how trash removal is handled in the county.

* Only haulers who have prior written consent from the county would be allowed to deposit out-of-county trash at the Scarboro landfill or the waste-to-energy plant. Fines would be charged if county inspectors found at least five envelopes with out-of-county addresses in the trash from trucks that do not have prior clearance.

* The owner, developer and contractor of a construction site would be responsible for removing debris or other material "from any paved streets or roadways." This new provision would require contractors and developers to clean roadways adjacent to a construction site, as well as all roads traveled by trucks serving the development site.

* The bill also would create a system for collecting the $35-per-ton tipping fee the county will begin charging haulers June 1 for loads taken to the county's central dump, Scarboro landfill, or the waste-to-energy plant at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

After hearing objections about other aspects of the bill from local business owners, the council decided there were enough questions about the law's intent to warrant a combined public hearing and work session on the issue from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 1 in the council chambers (Level A, County Courthouse).

The provision that raised the most objection at the public hearing on the bill Tuesday was a requirement that private haulers turn over customer lists and route maps to the county.

Sharon Worthington, an employee of Harford Sanitation Inc., said it sounds like the county wants to get into the garbage-hauling business with a franchise system -- making contracts with haulers to serve certain areas in the county based on bids.

"It's nothing more than the beginnings of a franchise system," said Worthington. "I think the private haulers have done more than a sufficient job of keeping this county clear of refuse."

Tim Smith, Harford County Chamber of Commerce spokesman, also testified against the bill, saying, "It sure looks like they plan to franchise. That may not be the intent, but it sure appears that way, or they should justify why they need this information."

Jefferson Blomquist, deputy county attorney, said the county does not intend to franchise trash removal.

Blomquist said the route information is sought so the county can charge a higher fee for accepting out-of-county waste and for planning and management.

"For example, in the summer, we frequently reach capacity at the waste-to-energy plant, and we divert trucks to the Scarboro landfill," he said. "We'd rather bury ash at the landfill because it takes up less room. If we knew the routes, trucks with materials that are more apt to decompose could be directed right to Scarboro."

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