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WARREN Officials face off over waste collection proposal



Published: Tue, September 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some officials are concerned the planned facility could grow into a larger operation later.

By STEPHEN SIFFand DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Opposition to a proposed household-waste collection facility near a LaBrae elementary school is based on a misunderstanding of the project, Trumbull and Geauga county commissioners said.

"The board of education needs an education about what this is about," said Michael O'Brien, a Trumbull County commissioner, at a board meeting of the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District on Monday. The board consists of the Trumbull and Geauga commissioners.

LaBrae School District officials, Warren Township trustees and some Warren City Council members have lined up against the waste district's proposal to build the collection facility and office building on Enterprise Drive, off Parkman Road within the city limits.

The 6.4-acre property, bought by the waste district in June, is separated by about 10 wooded acres from the township line and the planned site of the new LaBrae campus.

Purpose of facility

The solid-waste management district intends to erect a pole building on its property where on designated days residents could drop off hazardous household waste items such as tires, old paint, pesticides, and automotive fluids that can't just be dropped in the regular trash.

"This is material that is in your basement," said Gregory O'Brien, the solid-waste district's lawyer.

The items would be immediately sorted for recycling and trucked off that day, said Robert Villers, director of the solid-waste management district. None of it would be stored in the building overnight, he said.

Objections

"We are definitely opposed to it," said Ron Joseph, the LaBrae superintendent. "Why would I be in favor of it? In effect, they would take a campus with 1,600 students and build a waste facility behind it."

Joseph said he worried that the solid-waste district could expand operations at the facility once it was approved.

"If there was any kind of an accident, a spill or fire or anything, the school is so close to that facility," said Terry Ambrose, a Warren Township trustee.

She added that she also doubted the city's ability to monitor the facility adequately.

"They are right now responsible for Warren Recycling, making sure they abide by all the EPA regulations, and we don't feel that has been done properly, so we have a concern for this facility," she said.

Warren Councilman Robert Holmes III, D-4th, agreed. He's also concerned the facility could grow into something bigger.

"Originally, the facility out on Martin Luther King was supposed to be for recycling, and it's turned into hell's half-acre," Holmes said.

Warren Recycling operates a construction and demolition debris landfill and transfer station on Martin Luther King Avenue that residents and township officials say has expanded beyond what they originally bargained for. The smell residents say is coming from the landfill has also been the subject of persistent complaints.

Holmes and Councilman James "Doc" Pugh, D-6th, are sponsoring legislation to prohibit construction of solid, medical or toxic waste disposal, landfill, treatment, processing or recycling facilities in the city.

The facility for hazardous household waste, along with a separate office building for six employees, will cost about $1.3 million, Villers said.

The facility will replace the waste district's four-times-yearly waste collection days, held at a variety of locations within the two counties, including the Howland High School parking lot.

The program costs $350,000 a year. The private company hired to conduct the one-day events needs about 50 workers to process all the material that comes in, many of whom have to work overtime, Villers said.

When the new facility is opened, residents will be able to drop off material from their homes two days a week for about nine months out of the year, for about the same annual cost to the district, he said.




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