Debate continues over Bear Creek Recycling center
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 17:29

Comment period extended until January

by Ben Boehl

    The debate over allowing a proposed recycling facility at 4070 North Point Road site continues. A public meeting was held on Nov. 7 to discuss  Bear Creek Recycling, LLC (BCR) plans to operate a solid waste (construction and demolition material only). The company submitted a permit application to the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS).
    As a result, the Baltimore County Department of Public Works (DPW), is proposing an amendment to Baltimore County’s Ten Year Solid Waste Management Plan regarding the proposed Bear Creek Recycling facility.

    After the meeting, the community had until Dec. 12 to submit  written comments on the proposed amendment, but that extension has been pushed back a month to the deadline of Jan. 15.
    According to Baltimore County spokesperson Ellen Kobler, 7th District Councilman John Olszewski Sr. requested the extension so the community could get a better look at the project.
    “Some community members asked and were requested more time for the councilman,” Kobler said.    
    “They got more time with the holidays and wanted to meet with the owners (to tour a similar facility in Virginia).”
    Olszewski didn’t respond to interview requests from The Eagle.
    John Long, president and founder of the environmental group Clean Bread and Cheese Creek, said he was not invited to the tour in Virginia and believes additional time was given for the commenting period because residents in that area had too many unanswered questions.
    “I’m wondering if the developer is going to release more documents about the project,” Long said “There were too many unanswered questions.”
    One of the unanswered questions is the apparent drainage problem at the site. 
    Long said that many neighbors complained that there is not enough adequate drainage at the site and it will get worst as more water will be needed for this facility.
    Long added that  many community members have concerns about the noise, and question if that area has enough room for  the traffic such a facility would bring.
    Long suggested locating the facility in an industrial area, such as the area that houses the Owl Corporation.
    “We like the idea of jobs, but we don’t know if this is the right location,” Long said. “We would like to see it in [another] area.”
    BCR said in a statement in October that it estimates that the facility has the capacity to process approximately 300,000 tons of material each year, with about 60 percent coming from the Baltimore area.    
    The primary goal of this facility is to process material for recycling, with an anticipated recovery rate of 75 percent or greater. Residual waste after processing will be sent to an off-site waste-to-energy facility.
    John Butz of BCR could not be reached for comment.
    Local environmentalist Russell Donnelly questioned if the area is even zoned for a recycling center.
    According to the Baltimore County Zoning map, the area is zoned for light manufacturing, and Donnelly said the area must be zoned for heavy manufacturing to allow for the proposed facility. He believes that is the reason for the delay.
    “They are trying to recover; they don’t know what they are going to do,” Donnelly said.
    County Code Enforcement chief Lionel Van Dommelen cleared up the confusion by saying the future of the recycling facility will not be determined based on zoning, but by amending  Baltimore County’s Ten Year Solid Waste Management Plan.
    “The area is zoned as ML (manufacturing-light), but there is no specific zoning in an area when it comes to recycling,” Van Dommel said.