Simkins Industries details plans for Catonsville mill site

Three months after receiving a letter from Baltimore County demanding the razing or repair of a burned-out mill, the owners of Simkins Mill offered plans to clean and either develop or sell the mill site near Oella.

Simkins Industries, owners of the 87,000-square-foot mill on River Road that caught fire in 2003 and again in 2009, described the plans in a letter sent to the county's Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections on Aug. 3.

According to the letter, the company had been accepted into the Maryland Department of the Environment's Voluntary Cleanup Program, which provides state supervision for voluntary cleanups of properties containing hazardous substances, in May.

In its letter, the Connecticut-based company stated that for the next 24 months it would continue to repair property damaged by trespassers, take action to secure the facility from outsiders and ensure the existing buildings do not deteriorate.

After a public hearing in September, Simkins Industries will begin cleaning the site, a process expected to begin no later than the beginning of 2013, the letter stated.

Once the work is completed and the Maryland Department of the Environment tells Simkins Industries that no further action is necessary, the company will develop or sell the property, the letter stated.

A time frame for completion of the project was not available, though the company said it will update the county on its progress every six months.

In June 2003, a fire broke out and forced the facility to close after 46 years of operation at the location just east of the Patapsco River that serves as the border between Baltimore and Howard counties.

The mill caught fire again last December and required firefighters from Baltimore and Howard counties to extinguish the blaze.

Baltimore County sent a letter May 2 demanding that the owners of the Simkins Mill renovate or raze the burned-out structure in western Catonsville by July 1.

According to the letter — written by Donald Brand, a building engineer with the county — the owners of the mill had not maintained the facility near the intersection of River and South Hilltop roads in more than eight years.

Simkins Industries indicated that it had done numerous things and spent tens of thousands of dollars to maintain the area over the years.

The company responded that it has used an on-call contractor to fix damage from trespassers, hired security to monitor the mill, kept a large outdoor metal receptacle on site to encourage proper dumping of trash and worked with police and Baltimore County Code Enforcement to remove illegally dumped items.

Simkins Industries stated it has no plan to resume industrial operations on the property.

It listed developers or the state as potential buyers of the property.

Arnold Jablon, director of the Baltimore County Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections, said the county looks forward to working with Simkins Industries to resolve the issue and ensure that it stays resolved.

"We've been in continuous conversations to get to the point where we got the letter," Jablon said. "We have the same goal: getting it cleaned up and making sure it doesn't revert to the condition it was."

This story has been updated.

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