WEATHERSFIELD TOWNSHIP - Tensions boiled over during a question-and-answer session at Tuesday's trustee meeting regarding a proposed construction-and-debris recycling center and landfill in the township.
An overflow audience turned out for the scheduled event at the township administration building, with several residents expressing dismay about the rules and potential risks of the business.
"Lafarge landfill is held up as a model of best practices, and they have constant inspections because of violations in the past," resident John Vogel said of the operational Lordstown landfill. "It's inherent in the industry."
Southside Environmental Group in Niles owns the proposed site of the new business on Warren Avenue in an industrial zone. Officials with the local group said they would team with Kurtz Brothers Inc. of Cleveland in the project. Plus, they plan to use a $250,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant, which was applied for two weeks ago, group officials said.
The new business would take in debris from construction sites and separate the reusable wood and metals, they said. The remaining debris would be dumped in the landfill.
Resident Guy Hasson was concerned about the separation process.
"Are they going to have a separation building on site?" Hasson asked. "If a guy is sitting there trying to pick through this stuff, they are going to miss stuff. If they aren't going to have a separator there with a building, this is basically just a landfill."
Vogel expressed a similar concern.
"In these recycling centers, if you look at what the business model is, they're going to take all the inert material, the stuff that isn't going to hurt you, out of the pile," Vogel said. "They're going to concentrate the worst of the worst in the actual demolition debris site. Do you want a little bit of arsenic with your dinner or do you want your whole dinner to be arsenic? To me, I'd rather get as much meat and potatoes wrapped around it as I can get," he said.
Trustee chairman Gilson Blair responded to the criticism by noting the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Trumbull County Board of Health will monitor the facility to see it is abiding by regulations.
"I think it is irresponsible to just assume the worst," Blair said. "I understand people have concerns and we will do everything in our power to address those concerns."
The complete site of the proposed business takes up 30.3 acres, with the landfill taking up a small portion of that space. Although Blair noted he has heard some opposition to the new landfill in particular, the proposal passed through the Weathersfield Board of Zoning Appeals without a complaint nearly eight months ago. The appeals board set five variances to existing regulations, one of which allowed the group to attain a permit despite a home being within a 1,000 foot radius of the landfill.
"There is just that one home which fell within that regulation and that person was in attendance at the board of zoning appeals meeting," Blair said. "Adjoining property owners were notified. Some were in attendance."
Another concern expressed at Tuesday's meeting was whether or not the landfill was already operational.
"Based upon all the information we have, the landfill operation has not begun," Blair said. "Kurtz Brothers even takes it a step further and says they have not committed to the project yet."
According to Blair, under the conditional work permit, the Kurtz Brothers Inc. would have to provide an engineering study and a drainage plan. At that time, the township acting through the trustees could establish bonding for the property and the other conditions.
"As far as we're concerned, this is still the early stages of coordinating this business. Everything is still on the drawing board," Blair said.
Blair noted possible advantages for the community include bonding, tipping fees, the potential for new jobs and potential fees collected by the township's safety service departments.
The trustees will continue to discuss the matter in the future, Blair said. The next Weathersfield trustee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 12 at the township administration building.