Opponents, claiming lack of permit for landfill, seek to stop hearings


Opponents of Anne Arundel County's troubled landfill will ask state officials to stop hearings on plans for the site because they believe the dump has been operating without a county permit for eight years.

"Any which way you slice the cake, the county is operating without the proper county permits. Therefore, they are operating illegally," said Lina Vlavianos, a member of the landfill advisory committee. "Any consideration of a public hearing of review of the state permit is out of the question. You don't have public hearings for illegal things."

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has scheduled a public hearing on the county's application to combine and build two trash pits at its landfill near Millersville for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Arundel High School. Many neighbors of the landfill are vitriolic in opposing the expansion plans.

Landfill neighbor Robert McKay has written county and state officials asking that the county be forced to get a county permit before continuing its pursuit of a state permit. A county permit would address certain issues not covered in the state permit, Mr. McKay said.

County land use officials confirmed that they could not find a permit past the one dated 1983. The county permit has to be renewed every three years.

"We have searched the files. There does not appear to be a permit. There is evidence that an application was made" in 1986 and 1989, said Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for the county's land use office. "From that we can't conclude anything yet. We haven't given up looking."

The landfill advisory committee is not aware of the county's lack of a permit because it has not met since the start of the month. Ms. Vlavianos said she and Mr. McKay discussed the permit question with county officials Wednesday.

Ms. Ritter said the file also contains a 1992 letter by public works officials discussing the need for a permit, and a letter from planning and code enforcement officials asking if the state complaint and order pre-empts the need for a permit.

"We are legally operating under the state's purview at the moment. We are continuing to look for the county permit and information pertaining to it," Ms. Ritter said.

The county is operating under a 1992 MDE order that closed three trash pits and forced the county to bring the landfill into state compliance. The county had been operating without a state permit.

The 567-acre landfill has a troubled past. County workers piled trash at the dump at least 50 feet higher than the state permit allowed. In June, county officials said they found Freon-like chemicals seeping out of the eastern side.

If the county receives a state permit to combine the eighth trash cell, which is in use, with a ninth cell it wishes to build, it will have met requirements of the 1992 state order and be fully permitted, Ms. Ritter said.

The county wants its last combined trash pit to reach 240 feet above mean sea level. Previous plans limited the height to 226 feet.

The neighborhood opposes the height, which is within a few feet of another trash mountain and about as high as a nearby hill.

The county says its proposal will allow it to use the landfill until 2008.

The county's permit application shows that the east side of what would be the last trash pit would be less than 500 feet from some homes. Opponents of the expansion said they interpret the law to require a 1,000-foot setback. MDE officials said they will not deal with setback because it is a local issue.

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