A township trustee says it's 'quite clear' residents don't want any more fireworks.
By VIRGINIA ROSS
NORTH LIMA -- With a show of hands, the majority of people at an informational meeting Tuesday let it be known they oppose placement of a proposed fireworks warehouse in Beaver Township.
"Do we want it here? No," said Nancy Bensinger. "Can we do anything about it? Maybe; maybe not. But this meeting is the first step to fighting this battle, by letting everyone know what's going on."
Bensinger, who helped organize and host the meeting at the South Range High School auditorium, lives on East Calla Road directly across from the proposed warehouse site.
About 100 area residents attended the meeting.
The B.J. Alan Co., a fireworks distributor, has proposed building the warehouse on the property, which is located in an area of the township that is zoned industrial.
David Diebel of Boardman Steel owns the land. Diebel, along with state Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-61st, and Mahoning County Engineer Richard Marsico, were part of a panel available to answer residents' questions about the building plan.
Essentially, B.J. Alan Co. is looking to construct a 360,000-square-foot fireworks warehouse -- the size of four football fields -- at the site, which is between Market Street and Woodworth Road. The fireworks would be created in China, transported to the township and stored in the warehouse.
The company owns Phantom Fireworks on Market Street. Residents at Tuesday's meeting said they have safety concerns that the warehouse would be too close to the turnpike, railroad tracks, residences and local schools.
Larry Wehr, township trustee chairman, who was at the meeting, said the township's hands are tied because distributing fireworks in Ohio is legal.
"It's quite clear residents don't want any more fireworks in the township," he said. "But there's really nothing on the local level that we can do."
Bensinger said it is likely additional gatherings will be held to discuss the matter, and if possible, come up with ways to fight the project.
"They have every right to be there," she said. "The area is zoned industrial. But if there's any way that we can fight them and keep them out, we're going to try to find it."
Residents said they are concerned because the township has had two fire mishaps: an explosion on Western Reserve Road in 1985 and a fire at the former B.J. Alan store on Route 46.