Citizens of Perrysburg Twp. protest mining plan
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 19 September 2013 10:15
LIME CITY - Residents railed against a Perrysburg Township trucking business Wednesday as officials listened to concerns about a request to expand the operation into surface mining.
The meeting with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was requested by township representatives after Wylie and Sons LLC asked ODNR's Division of Mineral Resources for a permit to mine clay, topsoil and limestone on its 14.7-acre lot at 27226 Glenwood Road, currently the site of the trucking business.
Neighbors of the property and other nearby residents said they think owner Thomas Wylie operates the business with no consideration of its effect on them, and often in conflict with the law.
Neither Wylie nor a representative of the company attended the meeting. ODNR officials said they were not required to participate.
"While I understand that the applicant is not required to come and listen to public comment, I do think it shows the level of contempt that they hold for their neighbors," said Martin Forbush, of Glenwood Road.
"Since they have been my 'neighbor,' they have been the bane of my existence."
Forbush and others reported problems with Wylie's trucks leaving excessive mud on the road, damage to their vehicles and other activities that affect their quality of life and restrict the enjoyment of their property.
Perrysburg Township Trustee Bob Mack admitted that similar complaints from residents had brought Wylie's business onto their "radar" during the past five or six years the business has operated in the township.
Trustee Gary Britten said the lack of zoning regulations in the area makes it difficult to enforce violations like mud on the roadway, though one of Wylie's drivers has been cited.
Britten, who also serves as superintendent of the Wood County Highway Garage, said the mud creates safety hazards by combining a slippery road with a deep ditch nearby.
Township Administrator Walt Celley asked ODNR representatives about the possibility of issuing a conditional permit by attaching a bond for premature wear of the road and a requirement that the business have a paved entrance and exit to reduce the transfer of mud.
David Crow, deputy chief of the mineral resources division, said doing so would create significant legal hurdles, and that the permitting process must closely adhere to Ohio Revised Code.
Crow said he would discuss residents' concerns with the division chief, who is responsible for a final decision on the permit, which may not come for months until after a hydrology study on how the mining operation would affect the water table.
While some concerns may not have a direct tie to ODNR's jurisdiction in issuing a permit, they are helpful in determining whether there are violations that would leave the business in non-compliance in areas they do regulate, Crow said. The division can also pass along problems to other appropriate agencies.SClB"I think it's all beneficial, even though maybe I can't address every single thing," he said.
Lynn Hunter, who said she does not live near the business but has experienced difficulties with zoning regulation, encouraged residents to file complaints for the problems they encounter. The township does have nuisance laws, she said, and "they will fine them eventually."
Hunter, a candidate for trustee as Britten and Craig LaHote seek re-election in November, butted heads with the board later in the meeting when she pushed trustees about how far they would go to fight the mining operation.
"If this is approved, exactly how far are you willing to take the objections to that approval?" she questioned, asking whether trustees were prepared to take action through the courts.
Walt Celley said trustees shouldn't be put on the spot to answer questions about legal action, but that the board has proven in the past that it stands behind residents in need of support.
"That's the reason we're here," Celley said. "This didn't just happen. We asked for this hearing and we filed objections."
After a back-and-forth with LaHote during which he said trustees couldn't entirely "ensure" that the operation didn't move forward, Britten interjected that the township has already opposed the application, and that he would commit to taking every necessary measure toward prevention of the mine.
The written objection "ought to be enough to tell you how we feel," Britten said. "We're standing right here with all these people and we're in full agreement with them.
"I would love to see that gentleman move back across the river. Whatever we can do to completely shut his business down, I promise you and everyone in this room, legally we would do that. We have searched and we have tried off and on for the last five years to get an answer to this, and we don't have one. It's not for the lack of trying."