The Department of Public Works has canceled a scheduled public hearing before the County Council on Tuesday on its solid waste management plan that included two controversial recycling projects in the Joppa and Joppatowne areas.
Gerald Scanlan, chief of the Department of Public Works' solid waste division, said the plan is being pulled off the agenda to give the agency more time to meet with residents to discuss it.
Kim Ayres, Scanlan's administrative assistant, said no dates have been established for the public meeting, which will be held before the plan goes to the council.
Joppa and Joppatowne residents were expected to pack the County Council meeting Tuesday in protest of the two recycling centers planned for their neighborhoods. The projects are part of the county's solid waste management plan.
"We don't want this project in our back yard," Bob Dillon, who lives on Fort Hoyle Road in Joppatowne, said of a proposed plant that would recycle food, yard waste, wood and paper into compost for the use of homeowners.
"It's too close to three schools, one of which would only be about 200 feet away when you measure from property line to property line," he said. "It would be too much noise and dust and too much truck traffic for the narrow roads of this community."
The second project would be located off Paul's Lane near Joppa.
According to Frank Henderson, deputy director of environmental affairs at the Department of Public Works, the project would include a plant to recycle building materials from demolished structures. It also would include a tire-shredding operation.
County Councilman Dion F. Guthrie, a Democrat who represents the Joppa and Joppatowne areas, said he had asked the Department of Public Works to withdraw the two projects from its plan during a council work session Feb. 12.
He said the department was required to get approval for the two projects from a community group before presenting them to the council for final approval.
Harold Wiggins is president and owner of Paterson Environmental Services LLC, the New York company that wants to open the recycling plant on a 78-acre site at the Harford Sands Inc. property off Fort Hoyle Road.
Even before the county moved to pull its plan from the council agenda, Wiggins said he would be meeting with residents to win their support for his projects.
"We are not coming in and trying to go around the people," he said. "We want to be good neighbors. We are not a landfill company; we are a recycling company. There is no odor associated with our work. We would situate the plant as far away from the homes as possible. We would put in a tree line as a buffer."
Judy Blomquist, president of Friends of Harford, a grass-roots group that tracks growth issues, said the county violated the law by not establishing an ad hoc community group to give its blessing to the recycling projects before submitting them to the council.
She said she was also opposed to the idea of such facilities being operated by private, for-profit companies. "There would be no restrictions on what kind of rubble they would bring in," she said.
Blomquist said there are also more suitable sites in the county for such facilities that are farther away from population centers.