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Central Chemical evicts renters

August 02, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Central Chemical Corp. has ordered people renting space on its 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End to vacate the premises within 60 days, company President David Schwartz said Friday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1997 put the property off Mitchell Avenue on its Superfund list of the country's most hazardous waste sites.

Schwartz said the people renting property on the land had month-to-month leases and had been told they would have to move off the land eventually. They were notified this week that the leases have been terminated, he said.

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While the property is used by Hagerstown Recycling and Trucking, most of the people renting the property use the land to store or repair cars, he said.

John S. Burker Jr., owner of the recycling business, said having to move may cause him to go out of business. He thinks the EPA should work around his business, he said.

Schwartz said he rents property to about five people, some of whom sub-lease the property to others.

Schwartz was part of a 20-member land use committee asked to make suggestions on how the property should be used after the contamination is removed. The EPA, which is investigating the extent of the contamination, will determine whether the recommended use is feasible.

During an eight-month process, the committee, which included government officials, residents and members of nonprofit organizations, were given information about the site and its potential reuses.

In July, the committee sent to the city of Hagerstown and the EPA its written report suggesting the land be re-used for a commercial office park or light industrial development.

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.

A committee including representatives of those businesses agreed with his decision to have the tenants leave the property, Schwartz said.

Schwartz said one reason he wanted the tenants off the land is because it would make work easier for the EPA, which normally does not have to work around operating businesses when testing.

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