COLUMBIANA CO. Public debates power plant

A decision on the application to site the proposed power plant is expected in a few weeks.
LISBON -- A hearing on a proposed power plant had supporters speaking of jobs and economic development and opponents expressing concern about pollution and loss of rural land.
The Ohio Power Siting Board now has the job of sorting out the opposing viewpoints expressed at Wednesday's public hearing.
The session, attended by more than 100 people, was sponsored by the siting board at David Anderson High School.
The panel is expected to determine in the next few weeks whether to approve an application by Cogentrix Energy Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., to build a $600 million, gas-fired electric generation plant in Columbiana County.
The primary site for the plant is off St. Jacob-Logtown Road in Center Township. An alternate site is along state Route 45 in Salem Township.
If approved, the plant could be operating by June 2004, with construction starting in summer 2002.
Opponents: "This county is polluted enough," Nancie Burbick of Lisbon said during the hearing.
Burbick was expressing a concern voiced by several opponents that the plant will give off harmful emissions, though the company insists that its emissions will meet all environmental regulations and will not be harmful.
"We need to grow, but not this way," said Burbick, who added that the issue of putting the plant in the county should have been subjected to a popular vote.
Cogentrix has said the two-year construction phase of the plant will employ nearly 300 people.
Burbick said she thinks many of those jobs will go to residents living outside the area who work for construction companies large enough to handle such a massive project.
Earlier in the day, Cogentrix said it had reached a deal with area labor unions to use local union labor whenever possible.
Melanie Emerson, a county resident, was critical of the project, which she said will use rural land for a "polluting, industrial purpose. Cogentrix could care less about green space," Emerson declared.
The plant should be put in an area already used by industry, she added.
John Gamble Sr. of Winona said he is worried about what will happen to the site once the plant has served its useful life and is abandoned.
Gamble also questioned the need for another electric-generating facility. "We've got plenty of power," he said.
Supporters: Project supporters praised the proposal.
"This project is a major step in helping ... build a better quality of life" in the county, said state Rep. Charles Blasdel of East Liverpool, R-3rd.
County Commissioner President Dave Cranmer noted that he lives near both the primary and alternate sites for the plant and is in favor of the enterprise because it will produce jobs and spark further economic development.
The waterline that will be laid from the Ohio River to the site to supply the plant will be a valuable addition to the county's infrastructure, said Tracy Drake, Columbiana County Port Authority director.

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