'Mountain' moves residents


The folks on Belle Grove Road call it "the mountain" -- a 500-foot-high dirt pile at Patapsco Excavating Inc. that rises above their neighborhood and blows dust and grime into their back yards, clinging to laundry and windows and scratching car finishes.

"When I hang clothes out and it doesn't look like I've washed them, that bothers me," said Dolores Impallaria, who lives in the 400 block of Old Riverside Road and is president of the Belle Grove Improvement Association.

Belle Grove residents have been complaining about the operation, a clean fill intended only for fill dirt and concrete, for several years. A few months ago their complaints got the attention of state environmental officials, who pulled a surprise inspection last week and cited the company for dumping solid waste such as tire chips and demolition debris from buildings without a permit.

"They were told to stop accepting unacceptable waste," said Rick Collins, director of waste management for the state Department of the Environment.

Mr. Collins said the firm was ordered to remove the solid waste.

The incident was only the latest in a long-running battle between Belle Grove residents and Patapsco Excavating, which has not had a permit to accept dirt or waste since 1991.

Residents say they lose sleep over noise from slamming tailgates and diesel trucks that begin dumping as early as 5 a.m. on weekdays, and sometimes operate on weekends.

"Who wants to put up with the tailgates banging all day and all night?" asked Jane Hull, who has lived in the 200 block of W. Meadow Road since 1950. "Then the machines are pushing the dirt. I'd move if I could."

Noise from the site, which straddles the Baltimore City-Baltimore County line in the 600 block of W. Patapsco Ave., leaps over the 20-foot barrier the state built seven years ago to protect the Anne Arundel community from the Harbor Tunnel Thruway.

If the noise weren't enough, the dust that blows off the pile on a windy day "looks like a desert storm," complained resident Regina Scheydt.

The residents met three years ago with Ed Suddreth, owner of Patapsco Excavating, state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn Park, and an engineer from Baltimore City's Department of Public Works, to discuss their complaints.

At the time, Mr. Suddreth, who has operated the fill since 1980, promised to landscape the mound by planting trees and shrubs, to keep the soil damp to control dust and to cut down on the noise.

"He's made a bunch of promises that weren't kept," Mrs. Hull said.

A woman who answered the phone at Patapsco Friday said Mr. Suddreth would be out of town until today and unavailable for comment.

In addition to his troubles with state officials, Mr. Suddreth has had problems with regulatory agencies in Baltimore city and county.

In March, Mr. Suddreth signed a consent agreement with Baltimore County to stop dumping on parkland there. The city revoked his dumping permit in 1991, and he does not have a permit in Baltimore County.

In a case not related to the dumping permit, the city is threatening to sue his company to recoup the costs to reconstruct the Patapsco Avenue Bridge. In 1991, dirt from Mr. Suddreth's fill caused the bridge's pilings to shift, causing structural damage.

In a memo dated April 25, Baltimore City Council President Mary Pat Clarke asked George Balog, director of public works, to help shut down Mr. Suddreth's operation, "truck by truck."

"I am requesting notification to the owner, Mr. M. Edward Suddreth, that dumping is to stop and that trucks will be aggressively ticketed for entering with uncovered loads and for dumping," the memo said.

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