New concerns at old Cygnet dump PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by By JAN LARSON Sentinel County Editor   
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 10:30
A fence which has seen better days marks the boundary of the old dump in Cygnet.  (Photos: Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)
CYGNET - For decades, the dormant dump sat behind a sagging fence on the southwest edge of Cygnet. Inside rested rusting trucks and aging campers that had outlived their usefulness.
Then along came scrapper Chris Bates, who makes a living selling other people's junk. He bought the old dump, with plans to make money off the metal that had sat there for countless years.
But Bates, who also operates Bates Recycling nearby on Jerry City Road, said his efforts to clean up the site are being hampered by Cygnet village officials.
However, Mayor Nancy Myers said she would love to see the old dump gone - and has absolutely no intention of standing in the way of cleanup efforts.
"My personal opinion is, it's great if they are in there cleaning it up," Myers said.
The mayor does, however, want Bates to follow village rules as new owner of the old dump.
And that means Bates needs to purchase a permit to operate a salvage/junkyard, costing $10 a month. Village leaders, who want Bates to be upfront with his plans, also said Bates first denied that he had purchased the site and refused to state his plans for the old dump.
"We were not even sure who actually owns it," Myers said. "As mayor, I have to protect the village."
So upon hearing that the land had changed hands, Myers contacted the health department to express concerns about antifreeze and other possible contaminants at the site. Health department and Ohio EPA inspectors visited the site and found no evidence of new hazards.
"We didn't see any violations of anything we regulate," said Dina Pierce, a spokesperson for the Ohio EPA.
Bates said he only has good intentions for the old dump, with his original plan being to build a park on the property and donate it to the village. But he now doubts the support of the village officials since they seem to be blocking his efforts.
"They're talking one way and acting the other way," he said.
Cygnet village solicitor, James Rode, said village leaders would like some honest answers, in a non-confrontational discussion.
"They would like to have their concerns addressed in a calm manner," the solicitor said.
Village officials also want to make sure the new owner complies with rules to keep the site fenced.
"The fence is falling down," Myers said.
But Bates said the fence has to be moved to get to the valuable scrap metal. He estimated the site, which has operated as a junkyard for more than 50 years, has thousands of tons of scrap iron.
Rode said the town simply wants Bates to follow the rules.
"If he's cleaning up, that's good for everyone," Rode said. "We're more than happy if he's cleaning it up. The more scrap he can sell, the better. We're not trying to stop him."
Bates said the village has shown him no paperwork proving that he must purchase a permit for the site. He said the previous owners, the Tefft family, paid money without getting anything in writing.
"They've been taking money from the Teffts for 20 years with no ordinance. They've been extorting from the Teffts for $10 a month," he said, adding that he does not have to pay to operate the Bates Recycling site on Jerry City Road. "I don't have no permit there."
But Rode said the village requires a permit since the zoning code allows the junkyard as a conditional use.
"We're not trying to shut him down," Rode said.
But Bates insisted he's not operating the scrapyard, he's cleaning it up. If village officials could prove they have a permit required for cleaning a landfill, Bates would consider paying it.
"I'd take it out of the $1,200 they owe me for work stoppage," when health department and EPA inspectors came to the site, he said.

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