Three months after methane gas drove three families from their homes in the Calvert Ridge community in Elkridge, a steam shovel unearthed truck tires, a metal drum, a water heater and other objects in the back yard of one of those houses yesterday.
The findings seem to validate homeowners' concerns that Ryan Homes built atop an undocumented neighborhood dumping ground.
"This is very, very frightening," said Don Angeletti, whose house is next to the home of Bill and Jeanette Bambarger in the 7000 block of Calvert Drive where the excavation took place. "We didn't pay to live on a landfill."
Homeowners said crews began working about 9 a.m. to dig out a 10-foot-wide, 10-foot-deep hole.
Other items removed included tarps, pieces of metal and rubble.
Robert Brager, an attorney representing many residents, said results of the dig solidify his intention to file by next week a notice of intent to sue Ryan Homes.
"If they would take the people here and give them the same home on clean land and pay for their moving costs and pay for any incidental costs, we wouldn't need a lawsuit," Brager said. "This is just putting a bandage on a hemorrhaging wound."
Robert Coursey, Ryan Homes spokesman, and John Liparini, president of the Brantly Development Group, which developed the property, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Ryan officials have said the problems can be solved by installing ventilation systems in homes in Calvert Ridge and neighboring Marshalee Estates, where a fourth family had to evacuate its home briefly Sept. 30 after gas was detected near basement sump pumps.
On Sept. 2, Bob Hartwick contacted authorities after detecting an odor of gas in his basement.
Firefighters and investigators from the Maryland Department of the Environment tested numerous homes before ordering the evacuation of the Bambargers, the Hartwicks and a third family.
Liparini acknowledged in October that materials such as tree stumps had been buried at Calvert Ridge years ago.
He said that most of the decomposing organic material was removed two years ago, before houses were built, but that workers stopped digging at a depth of 14 feet and more debris might be buried at the site.
Ryan officials have installed ventilation systems in 10 homes, but John Batzer said he won't rest until he moves out.
"I'm scared to let my kids come out here and play," said Batzer, who lives in the 7100 block of Elk Mar Drive. "I'm not going to have any peace of mind living here."
Pub Date: 12/08/98