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Group to give land-use report to city, EPA

June 06, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

At its final meeting, a citizens land-use committee on Thursday gave consensus to submitting a report to the City of Hagerstown and the Environmental Protection Agency on the panel's suggested re-use plans for a 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End.

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

The committee of about 20 members is encouraging using the property, after the contamination is cleared away, for a commercial office park or light industrial development.

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Examples of light industrial uses, the report said, are equipment repair, landscaping services, computer manufacturing and laboratories.

Examples of potential office parks, the report said, are medical offices, engineering firms, and photography studios.

The committee's recommendation is tentatively scheduled to be presented to a joint meeting of the Hagerstown Planning Commission and the Hagerstown City Council on July 1.

The EPA, which is investigating the extent of the contamination of the property, will determine whether the recommended use is realistic and feasible. The study is expected to take about two years, EPA officials have said.

During an eight-month process, the committee, which includes government officials, the Central Chemical president, residents and members of nonprofit organizations, was given information about the site and its potential reuses.

After deciding at its April 24 meeting on its reuse recommendations, the committee held a public meeting to get input at its May 22 meeting - attended by about 35 people - and then finalized its recommendations and report at Thursday's meeting.

During an evaluation portion of the meeting, committee member Robert Brown of Washington County Public Schools and others on the committee said it has been beneficial to have the city, citizens and company representatives working together as part of the committee process.

Consultant E2 of Charlottesville, Va., funded by a government grant of about $60,000, helped mediate the meetings and wrote the report.

About 15 businesses identified as "potentially responsible parties" will have to pay for the cleanup of the property and the EPA's work on the project, EPA officials have said.

According to the EPA, from the 1930s through the mid-1980s, Central Chemical blended agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, creating waste and byproducts the EPA alleges were 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, the EPA says.

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