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Environment

Anne Arundel County sues Lothian reclamation site, seeks $30k in fines, halt to scrapping operations

A District Court judge will hear arguments Thursday afternoon in an Anne Arundel County lawsuit against a company operating a mining and reclamation site in Lothian that officials say is illegally being used as a junkyard.

Anne Arundel County zoning inspector Ulric Dahlgren wrote in an affidavit that he issued violation notices to the Belle Grove Corp. in 2021 after inspecting the company’s Westport Reclamation, a 100-plus acre site located off Sands Road. Dahlgren said the construction company has been storing scrapped vehicles and operating other businesses that extend beyond the scope of its mining and reclamation license.

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The company didn’t change its operations after receiving the notices, the lawsuit charges.

Belle Grove President Bruce Jones did not return a request for comment on Tuesday. The company’s lawyer, Anthony Gorski, said in an interview that he had been in conversations with the county, and he believes there have been misunderstandings about what happens on the site.

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“Our position is they’re doing everything within the scope of their permit,” Gorski said.

The county filed suit against Belle Grove in March seeking $30,000 in fines and a halt to any violations at the Lothian site. Community members also garnered the attention of the Mid-Atlantic Justice Coalition, a group that helped Lothian residents file a petition urging the county to reconsider Belle Grove’s permit.

“The community’s been pushing for a long time” to have the permit rescinded or modified, said Michael Payan, a spokesperson for Namati, a worldwide nonprofit that seeks legal empowerment of communities, which convenes the justice coalition.

Payan said industrial activities at the Westport Reclamation site have subjected residents of the south county area, to heavy truck traffic as well as air and water pollution.

“When you go down there, it’s like you’re next to I-95,” said Payan, who expects residents to be in attendance at the hearing.

The suit charges that in addition to being used as a junkyard, the mining and reclamation site is also housing a biosoil blending business called WeCare Denali and another business called Maryland Tank & Environment. The county also accused Belle Grove of using the site for concrete recycling without a permit.

Gorski said the services are all “activities that happen at mining operations,” and don’t require a special permit. He also said the site is not hosting any concrete recycling, but rather happens to get concrete as part of their reclamation activities, and that vehicles on the site are mostly old, heavy pieces of mining equipment that need to be cut apart to be removed.

“It’s not something that can happen quickly,” Gorski said.

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An injunction hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Anne Arundel District Court in Annapolis. If a judge rules Belle Grove violated its permit, the county is also seeking the right to force the company to bring the site into compliance or have county officials do it.


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