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Youngstown cuts deal with company that didn't pay rent in 7 years

Published: Thu, November 21, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

By David Skolnick



City council authorized the administration to pay up to $150,000 to a company that operated a gravel-making facility on city-owned property without a lease or paid rent and violated the city’s zoning code.

The payment, unanimously approved Wednesday by council, would be for about 15,000 tons of processed gravel and possibly another 15,000 tons of unprocessed aggregate.

City Law Director Anthony Farris said A.P. O’Horo, which operated the facility on Albert Street for seven years, likely is going to relocate its aggregate-processing business to the former YBM Corp. site on Logan Avenue and Hubbard Road.

The company would pay about $40,000 to buy four acres there, he said. An appraisal of the property puts its value at approximately $10,000 per acre.

The deal with O’Horo isn’t finalized. Farris declined to say how much the company would pay in back rent and how much the city would pay for the materials.

“We’ve worked out a very broad agreement,” he said. “We’d spend money, but we’d get a lot of aggregate.”

That material would be used by the city for excavation backfill for sewer repairs.

Farris said $50,000 is closer to what the city will end up paying O’Horo, and called the $150,000 limit a “worst-case scenario.”

City officials said Monday that the economic-development office failed seven years ago to enter into a lease agreement with O’Horo and didn’t seek rent from the company.

On top of that, noise and dust problems have existed for years at the property, which is zoned residential and institutional, the latter allowing for schools, libraries, churches and other nonprofit uses. O’Horo has used the facility for industrial purposes in apparent violation of the city zoning code.

Despite approving the deal, city council members said after Wednesday’s meeting that they were shocked to learn about the lack of a lease and rent for seven years, and the zoning issue by reading an article in Tuesday’s Vindicator.

“I’m absolutely surprised,” said Councilman T.J. Rodgers, D-2nd. “Department heads need to oversee what’s happening, and the department heads need to be overseen.”

Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, said, “There should be accountability. The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing. At least the business is being moved out of a residential area.”

O’Horo stopped crushing construction material at the Albert Street location about six to eight months ago after being told to stop by the city after the lack of a lease and the zoning issues were discovered, Mayor Charles Sammarone said.

Also, O’Horo is being kicked off the property by Dec. 1.

The city isn’t sure what will be done with the 15,000 tons of unprocessed aggregate as it can’t be crushed at the Albert Street location because that would violate the zoning code, Farris said.

“It will likely have to be removed,” he said of the unprocessed aggregate. “It’s undetermined if the city will take it, O’Horo will take it or another company will take it. But their operations have to be gone at that site.”

City officials will meet today or Friday with O’Horo to work on finalizing the tentative deal, Farris said.

Also Wednesday, council agreed to permit the administration to advertise for proposals and enter into a contract with a company for residential garbage removal.

The city’s four-year contract with Ohio Valley Waste Service expires Feb. 28.

Several council members expressed concerns Wednesday about Ohio Valley, saying they’ve received complaints from constituents about the company not picking up garbage at scheduled times and not taking bigger items, such as old furniture.

Council will consider a proposal at its Dec. 4 meeting to reduce the monthly residential garbage fee by $1 beginning in January, said Finance Director David Bozanich.

The current monthly fee is $15.75 a month.

The city has a surplus in the fund because of an increase in the number of residents paying the fee and better collection of that money, Bozanich said.

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