Mayor vetoes bill placing restrictions on incinerator


Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has vetoed legislation that would have placed additional restrictions on the amount of medical waste allowed into a South Baltimore incinerator.

The Baltimore City Council failed to override the mayor's veto Monday night, falling six votes shy of the 15 needed.

Schmoke's veto ends a two-year battle over the boundaries for the Hawkins Point Medical Waste Incinerator. Last year, the council passed a law allowing the owners of the facility, Phoenix Services Inc., to expand their collection boundaries to a 250-mile radius.

The change was proposed by council members from the 6th District, who said they were assured by company officials that more employees would be hired at the plant. But after the bill passed, Phoenix laid off 15 workers.

The 6th District members tried last month to repeal the boundary extension with a bill that would have limited the incinerator's operators to the initial collection area of eight counties.

The council passed the repeal last month. But Schmoke vetoed the measure after the city's Law Department expressed concerns that the change could make the city vulnerable to a lawsuit. Company officials complained that they had entered into contracts with contributors outside the eight-county area.

Nine council members supported overriding Schmoke, saying that repealing the expanded boundaries would have allowed the company to honor contracts.

Council President Lawrence A. Bell III joined Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. of the 4th District in supporting an override of Schmoke's veto. They were joined by council members Edward L. Reisinger and Norman A. Handy Sr. of the 6th District; Martin O'Malley, Robert W. Curran and Rita R. Church of the 3rd District, and Lois A. Garey and John L. Cain of the 1st District.

Opposing the veto override were council members Melvin L. Stukes of the 6th District and Bernard C. "Jack" Young, Paula Johnson Branch and Robert L. Douglass of the 2nd District.

The 2nd District council members said they supported the mayor because the medical waste incinerator prevents each of the hospitals in their district from having individual incinerators.

Members Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, Stephanie C. Rawlings and Helen Holton of the 5th District; Agnes Welch and Sheila Dixon of the 4th District; and Nicholas C. D'Adamo of the 1st District declined to vote.

Pub Date: 5/20/98

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