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No industrial mulching expansion

A bill to amend Howard County's regulations on composting facilities and natural wood waste recycling facilities is likely to pass - for the second time.
A bill to amend Howard County's regulations on composting facilities and natural wood waste recycling facilities is likely to pass - for the second time. (Howard County Times)

After hearing testimony from dozens of concerned medical professionals, subject matter experts and impacted residents, the Howard County Council passed CB60 anyway to allow hazardous industrial wood waste and mulch production on farmland, even including agricultural preservation farmland which had been supposedly protected against such commercial exploitation with expensive taxpayer-funded easements (“Passage of county bills on mulching, adequate public facilities declared invalid,” Nov. 7). This legislation was requested by County Executive Allan Kittleman and sponsored by council members Mary Kay Sigaty and Greg Fox. Due to an administrative technicality, the recent passage was nullified until it can be reheard by the planning board and Howard County Council again. That effort is already underway by the same proponents who were joined by Councilman Jon Weinstein in recent voting. Council members Calvin Ball and Jen Terassa have been the only voices of reason in actually caring about residents’ safety.

Deep-pocketed industrial special interests are placed squarely ahead of resident's safety by this legislation. Ms. Sigaty, Mr. Fox and County Executive Kittleman claim that this does not allow industrial scale facilities. The facts clearly prove otherwise. Neighboring residents to these proposed facilities will be subjected to endless heavy truck traffic, commercial grinding and processing noise, hazardous endospores and other particulate emissions, potential drinking water leachate contamination, fires and other documented hazards. These hazards are not speculative but have occurred and are well documented at many other such sites.

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This is not about "farming" as some would falsely claim. In fact, many alarmed Howard County farmers have testified against this attempted despoiling of farmland. Mr. Kittleman's re-election slogan of "People Before Politics" rings hollow as he instead places deep-pocketed special interests ahead of the safety of county residents. Factual testimony has not mattered to the proponents in their quest to move these facilities from industrially zoned properties (where they are currently permitted and rightly belong) into the midst of residential communities anywhere in Howard County. Stench, noise, dust and tractor-trailers may soon be coming to your residential neighborhood — courtesy of Mr. Kittleman, Mr. Fox, Ms. Sigaty (and now Mr. Weinstein), as they railroad this legislation again.

David Banwarth, Dayton

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