Belle Grove barred from mining 16 acres Residents feared water runoff problems


A county administrative hearing officer has rejected a Brooklyn Park sand and gravel company's request to start mining unused acres of its property.

In a decision dated Oct. 25, Hearing Officer Robert C. Wilcox said Belle Grove Corp. could not ensure that its storm drainage system was sufficient to prevent water runoff from flowing out of the company's sediment pond and onto residential streets in nearby Pumphrey.

Belle Grove owns a 50.4-acre parcel along the north side of Hammonds Lane.

The bulk of the property has been used as a sand and gravel operation, but 16.9 acres remain unmined.

The company had sought to have its R-5 residential classification for those 16.9 acres changed to a residential-agricultural designation.

Mining operations are not permitted in R-5 districts, which are allowed about five dwellings per acre.

Pumphrey residents have complained that surface runoff from the company's property has created severe drainage problems.

Some homes have installed sump pumps to accommodate the increased water flow.

"I have been here 25 years, and I have never seen the amount of water I have the last three years," said Owen Langford Jr., who lives on Charles Road with his wife, Constance.

Photographs from Charles Road and the surrounding area show standing water in the roadway and drainage ditches overflowing with storm water.

Mr. Langford and his wife joined several other residents at an Oct. 14 public hearing in Annapolis at Belle Grove's request. Mr. Langford represented the Taxpayers Improvement Association, a neighborhood group, at the hearing.

Daniel Werner, a civil engineer who testified for Belle Grove, "acknowledged that any runoff from the site would drain to the north and into the Pumphrey community," Mr. Wilcox wrote.

Mr. Werner said existing storm-water controls on the Belle Grove site were designed correctly, but speculated they may have broken down since construction.

If the rezoning request were granted, Mr. Werner said, he "could design a better system."

"The water that they are complaining about does not come from our property," Bruce Jones, vice president of Belle Grove, said yesterday. "It comes from the hills above them."

Mr. Jones, who said the company has begun contacting residents individually to hear their concerns, said Belle Grove has yet to decide whether to appeal Mr. Wilcox's decision.

A Notice of Appeal must be filed with the County Board of Appeals within 30 days of Mr. Wilcox's ruling.

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