Group meets on environmental court proposal

WARREN – Officials from health departments in Trumbull County and others who regularly deal with housing, zoning and dumping issues are supportive of the idea of creating a court to deal with environmental issues only.

Now they’re left to work on the mechanics.

That process began in earnest Wednesday and had those officials asking question about funding, jurisdictions and whether the magistrate who would hear the cases would be part- or full-time.

The proposal would create a position in the prosecutor’s office to help with environmental cases and have a magistrate, rather than a judge, assigned to hear environmental cases.

It was among several proposals that resulted from a retreat in October in which public and mental health, housing and child and adult advocacy and protection fields came together to begin the process of getting the health departments in Girard, Niles, Warren and the county’s Health Department publicly accredited.

There are 25 similar courts in the U.S., including one in Franklin County.

Officials here estimate it would take three to five years to establish the court, which probably will take some legislative action at the state level. In the short-term, the goals of the group are to raise awareness of the proposal, define which cases the court would hear and define the court’s jurisdiction.

The next meeting on issues developed from the retreat will be 1 p.m. July 23 in Warren City Council chambers, 141 South St. S.E. It will deal with increased health education, using the media to promote health services and funding cuts.