Crofton may appeal Route 3 recycling plant


Crofton officials are expected to call a special meeting within the next week to decide whether to appeal a state decision allowing a concrete and asphalt recycling plant on Route 3.

The special meeting is necessary because the next scheduled meeting of the Crofton board is not until the first part of September, too late to challenge the state's decision.

The state Department of the Environment gave E. L. Gardner Inc. preliminary approval in June to build the plant, which would recycle 20,000 tons of concrete and asphalt a year.

The permit is to be issued 10 days after the company announces its intentions in a newspaper advertisement, provided no one appeals the move. That notice is scheduled to appear tomorrow, said Crofton Town Manager Jordan Harding. Board members would have to respond by Sept. 4 to meet the appeal deadline.

Crofton officials have repeatedly complained that state environmental officials were unable to answer even basic questions at a May 13 public hearing.

Residents and local business owners packed the meeting that night and worried aloud about the noise and dust that the plant would generate.

Opponents also questioned the accuracy of a mathematical model used to show that the Gardner operation met air quality standards, claiming that it was flawed because the quantities of dust and emissions it used differed from those the permit would allow.

The state rechecked its figures and in a letter to Crofton Civic Association President Ed Dosek dated July 23, said the Gardner operation still will meet air quality standards.

Justin C. Hsu, chief of the New Source Permits Division for the Air Management Administration, also wrote that a comprehensive noise study conducted after the public hearing shows that the plant "is unlikely to adversely alter the sound quality to which Crofton residents are exposed."

If Crofton does decide to appeal and the state Office of Administrative Hearings decides the appeal is warranted, a second trial-like hearing will be held in front of an administrative law judge.

"An appeal might be difficult to win because all of the questions have been answered by Gardner and [its] consultants," Mr. Harding said. "However, there are still questions on a lot of people's minds that despite what they've been told, the noise and the dust problems would be significant."

Members of the Crofton Civic Association and the Greater Crofton Council plan to visit a rock crushing plant in Hunt Valley before voting on the appeal.

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