The home is on the same street as 16 others that Hess will demolish as part of a confidential settlement with some of Darling's neighbors—something the county employee learned about from a Patch story. The oil company plans on turning the yards into open space and turning it over to a non-profit, possibly NeighborSpace of Baltimore County.
Darling house—which has been in the family since the 1970s—will remain standing.
Her grandmother, a gardener by trade, died of leukemia a few years after MDE reported that petroleum contamination was detected in the area. Everything in the yard in front of her grandmother's house died.
"Obviously, I have no way of knowing if they were connected," Darling said.
But the smell remains— a heavy chemical odor that seems to emanate from storm drains. After it rains, brown stains are sometimes left on the sidewalk and the street.
"It's a really horrible, sour odor," Darling said. "You'd walk past it and it turns your stomach. I walk my dog on the other side of the street just to avoid it."
For Darling and her husband, who were considering selling their home possibly next year, the worries remain.
"My biggest concerns are my current and long-term health and my property values," Darling said.
The Baynesville resident plans on attending a Tuesday morning community meeting with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz at Johnny Dee's Restaurant near her home. The county executive is not coming specifically to discuss the contamination in the neighborhood but Darling has other ideas.
"Who's looking out for the community?" said Darling.