October 24, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain Planning Commission votes against limestone plant

Issue now goes to City Council

LORAIN – The Lorain Planning Commission has joined the growing list of opponents to bringing a limestone grinding plant to town.

CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Councilman Dave Wargo brought in a 40-pound bag of granular limestone, saying the EPA would allow almost 6,000 times this bag in yearly emissions.

The three-member board unanimously voted not to recommend to City Council plans to rezone 15 acres of land at the Riverbend Commerce Park, formerly known as the Colorado Avenue Industrial Park, from light industrial to heavy industrial so the plant could move there.

The plans now go to Council, which could agree with that recommendation, thereby killing the issue, or it can ask that the issue go to a public hearing. Council`s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 17.

Planning Commission member Rose Balogh said the plant wouldn`t be good for the city.

“They`re not bringing in anything good, and they`ll actually be costing the city by deteriorating the roads,” she said. “They`ll probably bring their own people in to work there, and they`ll bring in those hazardous materials. We don`t need it.”

East-side residents have been voicing their concerns about the plant to Council over the past several months, raising fears that limestone dust would pollute the air and dirty cars and houses, and that truck traffic to and from the plant will ruin roads.

Councilman Dave Wargo, D-1st Ward, represents the area where the plant will go and said his constituents don`t want it there. He said the number of jobs projected, 12 to 20, is not sufficient for the price the city will pay.

“It`s going to be devastating over there,” Wargo said. “It`s not going to attract any businesses.”

Lorain cannot afford to be a heavy industrial city again and needs to attract different industries that will sustain the city`s future, he said.

“Folks are waking up to the fact that they`re all just using us,” he said. “It`s all about the money, folks. These factories want to come here because it`s cheaper. I understand it as a businessman, but as a resident, we don`t need that.”

Cleveland-based Oglebay Norton, which wants to build the plant here, hopes to lease land from Riverview Realty Management Co., which has an option to buy the land from the city. The city would generate more than $1 million from the sale of the land, according to Sandy Prudoff, director of the city`s Community Development Department.

Prudoff said that money would be helpful because the city has taken on $6 million in debt to develop the Riverbend Industrial Park, which was designed to hold 30 companies. The park currently contains only Camaco Lorain Manufacturing, Horizon Day Care Center and a distribution center for the post office.

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.