Fed up with a gypsy trash hauling and transfer business that has set up camp in several rural neighborhoods during the past year, Anne Arundel County is preparing to take the owners to court.
Mettie M. Smith, an assistant county attorney, said she will seek an injunction in District Court ordering Kendall O. and Dawn M. Baldwin of Tracy's Landing to quit hauling trash and conducting waste transfer activities at locations in Deale and Tracy's Landing.
The couple did not return several phone calls seeking comment this week.
Officials with the county Department of Inspections and Permits have been tracking the couple's activities for more than a year, ever since they started operating their trash business - BTT Co. LLC - at a residential property on Geona Road in Fairhaven. The Baldwins have ceased activities at that site, which is owned by a relative.
Since then, they alternated between sites in Deale and Tracy's Landing, county officials say. Neither property is zoned for a trash hauling or transfer station. Neighbors at both sites have complained to the county, requesting quick action.
"All the citizens of Deale were so upset," said Jane M. Lucia, who could see trash containers, trucks and loose trash at the 5884 Deale-Churchton Road address. "No one wanted it here."
Of the decision to go to court - which could result in steep fines or jail time for the Baldwins - county officials said they have grown weary of waiting for the business owners to change their ways.
During the past year, officials say, the Baldwins have exhausted almost every remedy possible: requesting an appeal hearing and then postponing or canceling it, and promising to move their business but not following through.
Recently, the Baldwins began storing trash containers - large and small - in front of their two-story house at 312 Deale Road in Tracy's Landing, said county zoning inspector Joannie Coleman-Casey, who called such action a blatant code violation.
"They know better than to move the business to their house," she said.
So far, the Baldwins have avoided fines and continued to do business, according to county officials. In October, they won a five-year, $308,560 contract from the federal Bureau of Prisons for trash and debris removal services, according to a government Web site.
In April last year, county officials first notified the Baldwins that their business activities at 5889 and 5891 Deale-Churchton Road in Deale - a property zoned for commercial and light industrial use - violated the county code. They were told that they would need a special exception from the county to continue operations at the site.
The couple were scheduled to challenge that decision before the Board of Appeals in December but withdrew the request at the last minute. At the time, county officials said, the couple told them they had decided to move their business to Prince George's County rather than go through a lengthy and possibly costly special exception process.
They said that their trash containers and office trailer would be moved from the Deale site - which is also home to Good Old Days Auto Service LLC - by Jan. 31, officials said.
For a time, the site was quiet. But, recently, the trash containers returned.
"Yes, they are still occupying the property," said Lucia. "If the county gives them enough time, they will be right up to where they used to be."
Smith, the assistant county attorney, said that zoning officials don't want to give the Baldwins any more time. They hope that the court will stop the couple from operating any more trash businesses in unsuitable residential or commercial areas.
"This case has been around for a long time, so we want to make sure it doesn't linger," Smith said.