On Thursday, residents from Lothian, Maryland, filed a petition urging Anne Arundel County to re-examine a special exception zoning permit issued to Westport Reclamation, a sand and gravel reclamation site located on Sands Road in Lothian.
The special exception permit was issued in 1967, has never been renewed or reviewed, and allows for the operation of a “sand and gravel excavation” mine. Recent inspections from the Maryland Department of the Environment and Anne Arundel County found that the site exceeds the allowed uses outlined in the special exception permit. The company is also operating numerous unlicensed businesses on the property.
Unregulated truck trips at the Westport Reclamation site result in at least 75-100 trucks entering the community daily on narrow, rural roads. For decades, residents of Lothian and Harwood have been forced to breathe in diesel fumes and face nonstop industrial truck traffic that has resulted in truck accidents and put local pedestrians and children at risk.
Among those filing the complaint are Dr. Tracy O. Garrett, a resident of Lothian, and Fred Tutman, the Patuxent Riverkeeper, and resident of nearby Upper Marlboro.
“The citizens of Sands Road have the right to a quality of life free from the air, water, and noise pollutants that put our health at risk. Our environmental and human rights are being constantly violated and jeopardized,” said Dr. Tracy O. Garrett.
“Lothian has too many burdens from longstanding facilities here that add to local air and water pollution–plus way too many trucks on the same roads shared with local residents. How much is too much, and how long is too long? The County owes it to citizens to review and correct this special exception that was created way before most of our present-day environmental regulations existed,” added Fred Tutman.
Local resident, Celestine Brown, noted, “It is completely and environmentally unjust to allow this facility to continue to violate its 50 years-out-of-date special exceptions, which has allowed it to grow and inflict fresh harms on its neighbors with almost no review or accountability for the way our quality of life has diminished. It’s time to enforce the laws and to right-size this operator.”
The MidAtlantic Justice Coalition (MAJC) has been supporting Lothian and Harwood residents in addressing these health and safety concerns. MAJC Coalition Support Team Lead Jay Monteverde said, “At this point, residents have been demanding for decades that officials address the industrial truck traffic plaguing the area, yet it has only gotten worse. Their persistence uncovered that this facility has been allowed to operate virtually unsupervised for over half a century. That’s unacceptable. The county government must do its job and protect local residents by controlling industrial activity.”
“The existing special exception has not been updated in more than 50 years,” stated Patrick DeArmey of Chesapeake Legal Alliance. “It is not compliant with existing county code and regulations, and it is not protective of the Lothian/Harwood communities.”
Lothian and Harwood Residents have been in discussions with Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and believe the county has the authority to conduct a review of the special exception permit under Anne Arundel County Code if it is determined that “the use of the property deviated from the approved administrative site plan, an allowed use under the rezoning, or any conditions imposed.” Residents are urging Pittman to conduct a full review and take immediate action to rescind or revoke the permit to protect the health and safety of Lothian and Harwood residents.