The Bowie City Council drew the applause of a crowd of more than 80 at a hearing this week, when its members ignored the city planner's recommendation and voted unanimously to deny an application for a special zoning exception allowing a rubble fill just outside the city limits.
The application from Joseph W. Bortnick -- who wants to operate the dump for discarded construction materials such as concrete, bricks, and leveled trees -- will still be considered by the Prince George's County zoning hearing examiner. A county public hearing will be scheduled sometime in March.
Prince George's county has zoning authority in Bowie. In the past, the city's recommendations have carried strong weight in zoning affairs.
Bortnick wants to put the rubble fill on farmland north of Queen Anne Road and south of Central Avenue in the Upper Marlboro/Mitchellville area.
Bowie Planning Director Rich Smith recommended that the city approve the special exception for the dump on 236.7 acres, which falls within the Bowie planning area, because "the rubble fill conforms with the area master plan, the solid waste management plan and will not be detrimental to the use and/or development of adjacent properties."
Owners of adjacent properties who attended the meeting disagreed. Eleven persons spoke, citing as reasons for their opposition the possible health hazards, such as contaminated drinking water from their wells; traffic congestion; and the waste of scenic, rural land.
"I know it will be detrimental to my health since I don't want to drink asbestos. It might be detrimental to my mental health and I know it offends my aesthetics," said Elaine Tutman of Queen Anne Road, Upper Marlboro. "We feel this dump is an unfit intrusion into our lives."
"You don't build a rubble dump on agricultural farm land," said Maxine Hall, also of Queen Anne Road.
Glenn Harrell, Bortnick's attorney, said the dump would occupy only the most central 70 acres of the property, and that there would be "an 800-foot setback from the main roads and 500 feet from any building."
Council member Norman L. Cooper, who introduced the denial motion, said Bortnick's application did not demonstrate any need for additional rubble fill space, or whether there might be a more appropriate alternate sight in the county.