Montgomery County Executive James Gleason, by recommending Potomac as the site for a new sewage treatment plant, may have ensured that Laytonsville will be his choice for a new county trash landfill.
"Gleason's recommendation of the Potomac site for the sewage treatment facility has effectively narrowed his choice to one spot for the landfill," said County environmental planner Steve Poteat.
Gleason has been expected to announce his choice of a landfill site his week. At a public hearing last week, Laytonsville residents turned in four hours of vigorous protest against the placement of the landfill in their community.
Gleason said at the public hearing that he was also considering Potomac as a possible landfill site, despite the State Health Department's recent denial of a permit for the Potomac site.
Although Gleason said he has asked the state to reconsider its decision, this week he proposed another use for the Potomac site - as the location of a sewage treatment plant.
Even before he made his announcement on the sewage plant for Potomac, Gleason told the nearly 100 persons gathered in the Richard Montgomery High School auditorium that the state's denial of the Potomac permit, "has effectively reduced selection of sites from two to one."
An attorney for the Potomac citizens wrote Gleason that "in view of the state's actions," the Potomac Committee to Save Our Land would not participate in the public hearing, the county executive said.
Several Laytonsville residents expressed anger that Gleason had scheduled last week's site selection hearing before the state had ruled on the county's request for a permit to construct a landfill in their area. Neil Solomon, Maryland's secretary of health and mental hygiene, is expected to announce his decision on the Laytonsville landfill permit within the next few weeks.
Led by John Wehrle, president of the Greater Laytonsville Civic Association (GLYCA), more than two dozen Laytonsville area residents repeated the opposition they have been voicing throughout the long-running battle to install a landfill in their area.
"There is no guarantee that our water supply is safe," said Wehrle, who noted that area residents rely on well water which he said would be polluted by a Laytonsville landfill. "If that were the only issue, it should be sufficient to throw out the site."
Wehrle also said a landfill in the community would result in "degradation of our environment by the stench and accompanying disease" and an "inevitable change of the community from rural-residental to urban-commercial."
Selection of the Laytonsville site would be "blatant racism," said Robert H. Johnson Jr. president of the Mount Zion Civic Association. "Mount Zion is one of Montgomery County's oldest black communities and a great source of pride to all of us.
"We don't want the desecration of hundreds of acres of fine Montgomery County farmland with trucks and traffic nightmares and the birds and dogs that are all a part of a landfill," he said.
A Laytonsville landfill would be unacceptable to the Federal Aviation Agency because scavenger birds attracted to garbage at the site will create a hazard to aircraft around Montgomery County Air Park and Davis Airfield, testified GLYCA member Ted Burr.
The state cited this "bird issue" as the reason for denying the Potomac permit, said several Laytonsville residents who said they left the hazard to aircraft in their community was just as great or greater than the hazard in Potomac.
The only pro-landfill speaker was Rockville resident Joan Banfield, who is acting chairman of the county's solid waste advisory committee. "In 1981, we will run out of a place to put the 1,000 tons of trash generated each day in this county," said Banfield, noting that the current Gude-Southlawn landfill will reach its capacity at that time.
"If that happens, we will have immediate disaster. We urge you to make a selection from the available candidates."
As an alternative to selecting a new landfill site, Laytonsville area residents suggested expansion of the Gude landfill or accelerating the construction of a resource-recovery system.
In a moment of candor, Gleason admitted that he shared citizen's [WORD ILLEGIBLE] with the county's trash [WORD ILLEGIBLE] problems.
"I don't blame you for getting upset," he said. "Fundamentally, the principal reason I'm leaving government is that it's so fouled up (and) not getting anything done."