Office park, light industry suggested for chemical site

April 25, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

Members of a citizens land-use committee decided Thursday to recommend Central Chemical's contaminated 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End be reused as an office park or for light industry after the property is cleaned up.

The recommendations will be presented to the community at a public hearing at 7 p.m. May 22 at Western Heights Middle School, at which time people may give feedback to the suggestions.

In 1997, the EPA put the property off Mitchell Avenue on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of the country's most hazardous waste sites.


In deciding what land uses to recommend, committee members said they followed some guidelines and criteria including selecting a use that brings tax revenue and job creation, enhances the city and is not a nuisance to the area.

In earlier meetings, committee members said they were not interested in having residential developments at the site.

The committee will submit its suggestions to the City of Hagerstown and the Environmental Protection Agency, which will determine whether the recommended use is realistic and feasible.

The reuse would come after the property is cleaned up and made safe, committee members say.

Committee members said they also would like some of the property to include a buffer, such as walking trails and vegetation.

Late last year, the city, working with consultant E2 of Charlottesville, Va., established the land-use committee made up of about 25 members, including government officials, Central Chemical president, residents and members of nonprofit organizations.

The city funded the $63,186 contract with the consultant with money from the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative, an EPA program that funds community-based reuse planning efforts at Superfund sites.

Committee members said their job is hindered by the fact that the EPA has not yet determined how much cleanup and work will be needed at the site because the exact level of the contamination still is being studied.

Earlier this year, EPA workers began testing the soil and other materials to determine the extent of contamination. That analysis, which will include a feasibility study for the cleanup, will take about two years, EPA officials have said.

Sixteen businesses identified as "potentially responsible parties" will have to pay for the cleanup of the industrial-zoned property and the EPA's work on the project, EPA spokesman Pat Gaughan has said.

According to the EPA, from the 1930s through the mid-1980s, Central Chemical blended agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, creating waste and byproducts that were allegedly disposed of in an old stone quarry on the property and in a sinkhole. Contaminants on the site include arsenic, lead, benzene, aldrin, chlordane, DDD, DDE, DDT, dieldrin and methoxychlor.

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