April 19, 2014

Elyria
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Pittsfield Township zoning prohibits waste ponds

PITTSFIELD TWP. — The Pittsfield Township Zoning Board revamped its zoning resolution to prohibit a sewage sludge pond, like the one that was stopped from being built off of Quarry Road, from being built in the township again.

The zoning board’s recommendations for changes to the resolution will be forwarded to the Pittsfield Township trustees for review and approval.

Gene Mullins, chairman of the board, said the recommendations — including the prohibition of storing human waste in the township — were drafted by the zoning board with the help of Lorain County Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Innes. The changes to the zoning resolution were sent to the Lorain County Planning Commission for review, and the commission was in agreement with the wordage.

Among the additions, “No pond, lagoon, impoundment area or storage vessel shall be constructed or used to store — dry or wet compost, sewage, industrial waste, or human waste, treated or untreated in a residential, agricultural or business district. A conditional use permit may be issued in the Industrial District.”

During the zoning board’s meeting Tuesday, board member Alan Haines said the addition to the zoning resolution would prohibit such a storage lagoon from operating anywhere in the township, including in industrial areas. The decision pleased the residents, who have been vocal about the human waste, or sludge, pond that was built in a residential area in the township.

“I just want to thank you gentlemen. This whole situation has put everyone in the community on a different level, and I think you have set precedence for the whole entire county,” said Pittsfield Township resident Joyce Snyder.

Snyder and other residents protested the use of the Quarry Road storage lagoon, which resulted in a cease-and-desist order against property owner Donald Ortner and French Creek BioEnergy LLC, the company overseeing the project. More recently, Quasar Energy Group, the company French Creek BioEnergy operates under, announced it would abandon its plans at the site after the Pittsfield Township trustees declared the pond was an industrial use not permitted by zoning laws.

Quasar and Ortner were ordered to restore the property, where the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency contends wetlands were damaged by construction. The Ohio Army Corps of Engineers is investigating, but a spokesman wouldn’t comment on the investigation.

Mullins said Pittsfield Township issued its own citation on Friday to Ortner, who has 30 days to restore the property. He said the zoning board is pursuing legal action against him because the land has not been restored.

Residents at Tuesday’s meeting were vocal about imposing strict penalties on those who violate zoning laws, but Mullins said penalties are determined by the court system. Residents also asked that the zoning board add several small changes to the resolution that were recommended by their counsel, but Haines said it would be up to the trustees to make changes.

“As a zoning board, we all agree that this is what we came up with and we agreed to forward it to the trustees,” he said.

Haines said any changes proposed by the trustees would be final.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.

  • Jenn

    FYI.. the article indicates that Gerald Innes helped or had input in the re writing. The FACT is that Gerald Innes had NOTHING to do with the re writing. If you attended the meetings and were also at the meeting the previous night, “Trustee’s meeting’ you would see and hear that Gerald Innes had NOTHING to do with re writing.

    It was the zoning board team and residents who attend those meetings that put a lot of research and effort into re writing. Also the Lorain Commission is only a suggestion and has NO authority or oversight. It was clearly local people. The re writes and verbiage will be subject to the trustees approval. The verbiage approval was not subject to Asst Pros Atty Gerald Innes at this time. It’s up to the Trustees and if they so chose to have the Asst Pros input, they will do so at that time..