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TOWN HALL MEETING Residents must join forces to fight creation of landfill



Published: Thu, July 7, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Ohio has 68 licensed CDD landfills, an activist said.

By SEAN BARRON

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

GIRARD -- If residents want to stop a proposed landfill from being built on nearly 20 acres in their community, the biggest asset they have is themselves.

That was the main message several speakers drove home during Wednesday's town hall meeting at the city gym on Main Street. More than 100 people filled the bleachers to hear what they can do to stop a parcel of property behind Creekside Golf Dome, 1300 N. State St., from being converted to a construction, demolition and debris landfill.

A former state senator, members of a 2-year-old Hubbard group and the leader of a Warren-based grassroots organization rallied those in attendance by providing advice and tips -- including urging residents to form their own grassroots groups -- for fighting the landfill.

Total Waste Logistics wants to locate the landfill on the property off U.S. Route 422. Early last month, the company applied for a license from the city health department.

Tony Latell, former Ohio senator and part owner of Creekside, kicked off the two-hour meeting. He said there is a need for statewide laws "to prevent the Mahoning Valley and Ohio from being a dumping ground for other states."

Much of the waste material comes from East Coast states and is shipped to Ohio in railroad cars, each of which can hold up to 75 tons of solid and other waste, Latell said.

Health hazards

Debbie Roth, president of Our Lives Count, shared several problems that have arisen over the years with the Warren Recycling/Warren Hills landfill on 225 acres north of that city. Despite its being closed since January, the Warren construction, demolition and debris landfill has about 60 million gallons of standing leachate and is a health hazard, she noted. Leachate is water that comes in contact with debris and can create hydrogen sulfide.

"The smell is just horrendous," she said.

Roth added that much of the waste is not inert. Mercury, lead, arsenic and other toxins remain at the Warren site, she said.

Roth urged Girard residents to work together, educate themselves and become familiar with how to organize and use various resources.

'This is your town'

"If you can read a book, you can know what you need to know, and we can help you," she said. "This is your town, not their town."

Roth noted that Ohio has 68 licensed construction, demolition and debris landfills. Fifty-five of those sit near railroads and take out-of-state debris largely because of Ohio's low tipping fees and lax laws, she contended.

Roth said the proposed Girard site is about 190 feet from the Mahoning River, with a bicycle trail in between.

Help from Hubbard

David Wittenauer and Rick Hernandez of Hubbard Environmental and Land Preservation told residents about what that group has done to prevent a proposed construction, demolition and debris landfill from coming to Hubbard Township.

Hernandez warned that a landfill could cause residents' home and property values to drop up to 30 percent. Hernandez said that when his group was fighting the landfill, members wrote to the Trumbull County treasurer asking for a decrease in their property taxes.

Wittenauer said HELP raised money by selling T-shirts, going door to door and staging a concert. Other efforts included a letter-writing campaign, he said.

Residents need to mobilize and network, and they should apply for tax-exempt status for fund-raising purposes, he said.

"You have to put your frustration and anger into a positive movement to stop this," Wittenauer told the audience. "You have to put your negative feelings aside, come together and raise money."

Hernandez suggested Girard residents think of a catchy name for their grassroots group. One man came up with Girard on Outrageous Dumping (GOOD).




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