December 22, 2014

Elyria
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Planning board backs Lorain plant

LORAIN — The Lorain Planning Commission has changed its mind about a limestone grinding plant moving to the city’s east side.

The three-member board reversed its earlier decision and voted unanimously to recommend that Council rezone 15 acres of land at Riverbend Commerce Park, formerly known as the Colorado Industrial Park, from light industrial to heavy industrial.

The rezoning is necessary for Cleveland-based Oglebay Norton to build the plant there, but the proposal has encountered several roadblocks, including protests from residents, city officials and Council members concerned about truck traffic and possible dust from the plant.

Earlier this month, the Planning Commission voted unanimously not to recommend the rezoning to Council because of similar fears.

Mayor John Romoser, president of the Planning Commission, asked that the board reconvene on the matter because he had changed his mind and wanted to bring in a representative from Oglebay Norton to answer some questions from the board.

Romoser said that he was assured that dust will not leave the plant and traffic would only be driving east from the plant, away from the city.

“To my knowledge, we got answers to our questions,” Romoser said. “It may not be the most ideal company to put there, but it sure beats nothing.”

The proposal must still go before Council, which will vote to either reject the recommendation or call a public hearing about the issue.

Council only needs a simple majority of its 11 members to approve the rezoning, which is far less than the nine members it would have needed if the Planning Commission’s earlier vote was still in effect.

Board member Rose Balogh said she still feels uneasy about the plant but could not shoot down the proposal again in case other heavy industrial businesses wanted to move to that lot.

“I don’t have one reason for allowing (the limestone plant) because not one person out of 100 I’ve spoken to wants it,” Balogh said.
Council is expected to vote on the issue when it reconvenes next month.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or awright@chroniclet.com.