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Md. high court approves building 150-acre landfill


Maryland's highest court has ruled that a Silver Spring company may build a 150-acre landfill near Crofton, a decision that angered officials and residents who have been fighting the landfill for five years.

In reversing a ruling by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Martin A. Wolff, the Court of Appeals said the county Board of Appeals acted properly when it set out conditions for approving the Halle Co. landfill on a tract 2 miles north of routes 3 and 424.

"It's a very sad day, in my view," said Councilman Bert Rice, the Odenton Republican whose district includes the landfill.

He said that he was particularly concerned that the routes 3 and 424 crossroads -- labeled dangerous by state traffic studies -- could become a main route for an additional 300 trucks a day going to and from the rubble landfill.

Stephen N. Fleischman, vice president of Halle Co., said it was too early to be specific about when landfill construction would begin. But he said he hoped work would begin as soon as possible.

Halle's request to build a rubble landfill was denied by a county administrative hearing officer in March 1991 after residents complained that the project would have an adverse impact on traffic and the environment. Residents were concerned that it would damage nearby wetlands, the ground water and the Chesapeake Bay, Crofton Civic Association officials say.

The county Board of Appeals approved the plan Dec. 23, 1993.

In its approval, the board agreed with the developer that Conway Road should be the access to the landfill, that the road should be widened and that shoulders should be added to both sides.

Judge Wolff ruled Aug. 31 that the county Board of Appeals overstepped its authority by making the landfill approval conditional on the use of Conway Road as the main access.

The original plan called for access to the landfill from Patuxent Road.

Judge Wolff ruled that the access change made the plan so different from the one rejected by the administrative hearing officer that the board -- set up to hear appeals -- had no authority to consider it.

In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals disagreed.

"Additional evidence may be presented . . . and the board may impose any conditions it feels necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare," Judge Robert L. Karwacki wrote in a 20-page opinion.

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