Environmental planners for Montgomery County have suggested to County Executive James P. Gleason that three sites - two in Laytonsville and one in the Muncaster area - be studied extensively for their potential as trash landfills.

The recommendation comes after an initial screening of the county for land in low-density areas physically suited Gude-Southlawn landfill in Rockville. Twenty-four sites were picked for preliminary studies last spring, and they were narrowed down to 12 in September.

Further soil and environmental tests are necessary before a final site can be picked. However, Gleason must first pick the candidates for further tests, and after the tests, he will pick the final site sometime in late winter or early spring, according to planners.

Despite planners' recommendations, Gleason is free to pick any of the original 24 sites or any other sites in the county for further study.

After announcing the three recommended sites, Bob Lanham, the director of community and economic development for the county, said, "I have no confidence that (the other sites) are being ruled out."

Andrea Weirich, who heads the planners' study of the sites, and Lanham recommended these three sites:

An expanded version of what has come to be known at Site 55A, south of Rt. 108 and Dorsey Road, Laytonsville;

Site 55B at Riggs Road and Rt. 108, Laytonsville; and

An emergency site, E-25, which is near Magruder High School in the Muncaster area.

The third site can only handle landfill for about two years but facilities could be built there quickly because it is already a public piece of land.

Weirich and Lanham said they recommended sites that would have the least community impact. "There is no one suitable landfill site," Weirich stressed. Both 55A, with 140 houses within one mile, and 55B, with 174 houses within one mile, were the least densely populated of the sites examined. Both sites are mainly agricultural.

Sites 55A and 55B are long-term landfills and would include 200 to 300 acres. The landfills would be surrounded by a buffer of trees, hills and parks.

The planners also recommended that the county proceed on developing a central processing facility (CPF), which recycles reusable parts of trash, on a piece of land at Rt. 355 and Shady Grove Road already purchased for such a facility.

The possibility of indemnification for county residents was also recommended to Gleason by the planners. "If, in effect, you are affecting property values; you ought to think about compensation," said Weirich.

Other alternatives would be baling - an expensive trash compacting process which takes out almost 30 per cent of the volume of each ton of trash - and truck transfers. "This would be taking smaller trucks (of garbage) to one stopping point," Weirich said. "It minimizes truck impact at the landfill, but it creates new truck impact elsewhere."

Gleason has given no indication of when he will make his decision. "He's asked for information we didn't even have in the studies of the 24 sites," Weirich said, adding as an example, "He wants to know why we don't have any sites west of Seneca Road."