WARREN HILLS Business takes aim at local landfill
The company would aim to close the landfill within five years, he said.
WARREN -- A Warren native now living in Shaker Heights says he's formed a new business in Cleveland and is trying to buy Warren Hills landfill and Warren Recycling.
Robert E. Saffold of Saffold Associates Inc. said he is negotiating with the current owners but would not disclose his offer.
"The offer's been made already," he said Tuesday. "It's for real."
He said his company would buy, manage and operate the landfill and transfer station on 278 acres, and provide 35 to 60 jobs in two years paying $10 to $30 an hour.
Saffold was present at a Trumbull County commissioners' work session Tuesday but did not address the board; afterward he said he didn't intend to ask for such county amenities as enterprise zone status or tax breaks.
The goal, he explained, is to increase the business load at the site to generate enough revenue to close the operation. "We plan to shut it down within five years," he said.
Saffold, an ex-Warren firefighter and 35-year city resident before moving to Shaker Heights, said he has been a consultant to landfills for 30 years and is president of the Ohio Minority Contractors Association, and also is a past county human relations commission official. He has experience with insurance and as a stockbroker.
"I'm a businessman. That's why I'm capable," he said.
The purchase negotiations, he said, are predicated on the type of reception he gets from the city of Warren, state of Ohio, and federal officials. None of them want to increase the business load to shut the operation down, he said.
"They know that's the best way to get it cleaned up, through the private sector," he said.
Debbie Roth, president of the citizens' group Our Lives Count, said the group would oppose the landfill's continued operation. She said she doesn't know much about Saffold -- except that he'll have to jump through a lot of hoops as he tries to buy the business.
The commercial landfill on Martin Luther King Boulevard Southwest has raised the ire of neighbors, who say the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide coming from there causes health problems.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency workers are on the site, collecting data and samples to determine the extent of contamination and the best system for addressing it.
Warren Hills, for now, has told the EPA that it doesn't have the money to tackle the project. Instead, the landfill operator is focused on talks with the Ohio EPA that would allow continued operations while incorporating the federal EPA's orders.
In February, the U.S. EPA ordered the facility to put in place systems to substantially reduce or eliminate the hydrogen sulfide emissions in the neighborhood.
The operators of Warren Hills and the state had been trying to agree on terms and a final closing date of Dec. 31, 2008. In the interim, the landfill would be able to generate enough revenue and enough fill material to close in an orderly manner.
At issue is odor and leachate at the site, dust control and what materials can and will be brought there.
The state filed a lawsuit two years ago against the landfill. That suit remains unresolved. The state in December 2002 told the city health board not to grant a 2003 operating license because the landfill did not substantially comply with Ohio law on construction and demolition debris landfills. The city disregarded that view and issued a 2003 license. That decision was appealed by the state and Warren Township.
The case was settled in 2003, and the state did not object to the 2004 license. However, contempt charges were filed in early 2004, finding the landfill not in substantial compliance.
To keep this scenario from happening again, the landfill withdrew its 2005 application to the city health board for another operating license.