Unable to persuade the City Council to lift Baltimore's ban on construction of trash-burning facilities, the owner of the Pulaski Incinerator has gone to court, seeking to have the law overturned.
ad,1 In a suit filed against the city yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court, the New Pulaski Co. Limited Partnership said the 1992 law imposing a five-year building moratorium is "arbitrary and unreasonable." The law also improperly usurps the state's authority to regulate incinerator construction, the suit argued.
The suit, the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between the incinerator and the city, was filed in Baltimore County because that is where the company, owned by politically influential construction magnate Willard J. Hackerman, is based.
"Our goal is to be permitted to build a new state-of-the-art facility in place of the present incinerator on Pulaski Highway," Mr. Hackerman said in a statement.
Officials of the city's law department could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday.
City Councilman John L. Cain, a staunch supporter of the ban and whose East Baltimore district includes the Pulaski Incinerator, said yesterday he thought the suit was filed "to put pressure on the council to overturn the moratorium."
Mr. Cain, a 1st District Democrat, vowed to continue to fight to keep the law in place.
"This moratorium in my opinion is perfectly legal," he said. "The city has the right to determine how much incineration it wants."
A little more than a year ago, a City Council bill was introduced that would have lifted the moratorium and allowed Mr. Hackerman to tear down his outdated, polluting facility and replace it with a larger-capacity, $300 million waste-to-energy plant.
But the bill, which had the backing of the administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, was derailed last June after a majority of council members said it needed more study and refused to consider it before recessing for the summer. By fall, the mayor had backed off his support, saying the issue of incinerator construction needed to be considered as part of an overall solid waste disposal plan.