State shelves plan to build salt dome next to farm

Associate Editor

DAVIDSONVILLE, Md. (Nov. 10, 2015) — The mood around Y Worry Farm should be closer to worry-free after last week.
The state said it has abandoned a proposal to build a large salt dome on four acres it owns on the farm next to the U.S. 50/Route 424 interchange. It will instead seek to expand salt facilities across the state, the State Highway Administration said in a Nov. 2 statement.
The announcement ended a months-long dispute between the agency and the 20-acre farm over the four acres. Members of the Scible family, which has owned the farm for several generations, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The state purchased the acreage from the farm through eminent domain during the construction of U.S. 50 in the early 1950s. The state initially sought to build an off ramp from the highway onto Davidsonville Road/Route 424, but it never did, choosing another design option instead.
The state allowed the owners to continue farming the small sliver of land until it needed it again.
Mark Scible told The Delmarva Farmer in August he briefly pursued purchasing back the land in the 1990s.
“We were asked, ‘Why do you want it back?’” he said. “‘We can’t build a salt dome, and you’re free to farm it. If we ever want to build that interchange we’re just going to have to buy it back again.’”
The Scibles relented, a decision he said he regretted. Scible said he feared a salt dome’s industrial presence would open one of the few rural stretches along Route 50 to commercial development.
“This is the only interchange that’s still green,” he said. “All the others are commercial.”
Scible also said he believed when the state purchased the land, it was specifically to build an off ramp, so the state couldn’t legally build a salt dome instead. State officials said they were unaware of any such stipulation.
The highway administration wanted to build the dome there after recent harsh winters exposed a need for it. The state maintains 92 salt domes across the state, but none are in that area of Anne Arundel County. Recent snowfall has required salt to be trucked in to the area, causing shortages.
The Davidsonville Road option was just one of several under consideration, however. Other sites include one at Interstate 97 and Route 32 and another on Interstate 97 near Glen Burnie.
“I thank Governor Hogan and the State Highway Administration for listening to our residents and ensuring the Y Worry Farm can continue to be a special place for Anne Arundel County citizens,” County Executive Steve Schuh said in a statement.
If the state needs to reallocate resources in the event of an extreme winter, the highway administration will continue to truck salt loads from nearby salt facilities, the statement said. In Anne Arundel County, it maintains five salt dome and barn locations in Annapolis, Odenton, Tracys Landing, Southdale and two in Glen Burnie.