September 22, 2014

Elyria
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Trash, seagulls befoul property near county landfill

Melissa and Ron Novak point out where trash and debris from the Lorain County Landfill drops onto their Butternut Ridge Road home in Carlisle Twp. The landfill is located in rear on the hilltop.  STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Melissa and Ron Novak point out where trash and debris from the Lorain County Landfill drops onto their Butternut Ridge Road home in Carlisle Twp. The landfill is located in rear on the hilltop. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

NEW RUSSIA TWP. — When their pond was inundated with seagulls in August, Melissa and Ron Novak suspected trash blown from the nearby Lorain County Landfill was contaminating it.

With the 3-acre, 22-foot-deep pond now frozen, the Novaks say their suspicions have been confirmed. On Wednesday, chicken bones, documents with personal information and a used condom were among the trash on the pond.

Trash from the Lorain County Landfill blows onto Ron and Melissa Novak’s Butternut Ridge Road property on Wednesday.

Trash from the Lorain County Landfill blows onto Ron and Melissa Novak’s Butternut Ridge Road property on Wednesday.

The Novaks said the refuse is coming from the dump across the street from their 80-acre property at 43200 Butternut Ridge Road and about 1,400 feet from the pond. Ron Novak, 46, said he has lived on the property since his family bought it around 1971.

The property includes a farm with two cows and five horses. The Novaks said the pond is used by hundreds of people during the summer, including for baptisms by churches.

“We take pride in what we have,” Ron Novak said as he stood by the pond Wednesday. “It doesn’t look like it right now because there’s trash everywhere,” Melissa Novak said.

Neighbors have long complained about stench and trash from the 1,400-acre dump at 43502 Oberlin-Elyria Road which opened in 1984 and accepts an average of 4,000 tons of waste daily. The facility’s stench led to a $450,000 fine issued to Republic Services by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in March.

Bio Energy Development Inc., which converts methane gas from the landfill into electricity, was fined $50,000. The fines were in response to 360 neighbor complaints since 2003.

Republic has proposed expanding the dump’s capacity, which would extend its life from 2028 to 2035. The EPA is expected to decide on whether to grant the extension, which many neighbors oppose, in mid-2015.

The Novaks said they’re used to foul odor and blowing trash, but the seagull invasion was new. They estimated between 5,000 and 10,000 gulls arrive about 8 a.m. and stay until dusk daily since August. Ron Novak said he complained to the Ohio EPA about potential contamination and was told it was not in their jurisdiction because the pond is private. Mike Settles, an EPA spokesman, didn’t return a call or email Wednesday night.

Ron Novak holds documents that have been blown onto his property, some of which contain account information.

Ron Novak holds documents that have been blown onto his property, some of which contain account information.

Ron Novak said he was dissatisfied with the outcome of a Tuesday meeting with Republic officials. He said they didn’t look at pictures he took of the gulls and trash. While Novak said Republic agreed to have workers pick up bones in the spring, he wants an environmental cleaning company to handle it to ensure there is no contamination.

“If you had a condom floating around your lake, I think you’d want a little more than just picking things up,” he said. “The main problem we’re having is to get anybody to take responsibility and say, ‘Hey, this is our job to make sure your lake isn’t polluted by somebody else.’”

Eric VanHouten, a Republic general manager, was one of the officials who met with Novak. VanHouten said Wednesday that Republic hasn’t decided whether its workers or an environmental company would do the cleanup.

VanHouten said 20- to 50-foot-high fences catch most blowing trash from the dump, but high winds and frigid temperatures exacerbated the problem last week. VanHouten said Republic is trying to reduce the amount of gulls at the dump and in the neighborhood.

He said Republic has consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has used firecrackers to scare the gulls away, but they are a “very aggressive flock.”

VanHouten said Republic wants to be a good neighbor and takes all complaints seriously. “We look into every situation and try to remedy it as much as we can,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.


  • Michael

    “a very aggressive flock”. Conjures up images of the movie “The Birds”.

    “VanHouten said 20- to 50-foot-high fences catch most blowing trash from
    the dump, but high winds and frigid temperatures exacerbated the problem
    last week.”

    Isn’t that an admission of guilt?

    • outdoorslvr

      Laughable. This guy has been trying to sell his moms land to republic for years at a ridiculously inflated price. No neighbors complaining. I smell a rat in the dump. He appears to be looking for $$$$.

      • Tom

        He’s within his rights to sell his land for whatever her wants. Wouldn’t you want as much as possible? Regardless of him wanting to sell his land, it shouldn’t be inundated with garbage.

        • outdoorslvr

          Funny the garbage only lands on his moms property? Have known this guy for a long time. Saying he likes his stuff to be kept up and clean is, again, laughable if you know them. Looking to make a buck…. Believe it!

      • Kista Atkins

        Apparently there were neighbors complaining 360 of them according to the article.

  • Jan

    Not sure about what this guy wants, from what been posted. Yet in the long run, I would not even think about living anywhere near the dump/landfill.
    It shocks me every time I go pass that big hill of trash. What has happen to that road. And it sad, to think all that farm land is now a landfill, and man made mountains .
    I was even shock to see the pond that was on Oberlin Elyria Rd in front of the entrance, is now gone and there also a big man made mountain there.
    I would be worried about living anywhere close to there. Since the water could become bad, from all the stuff place there. Or a major fire.
    If you drive pass all the man made mountains you need to realize.
    That recycling is important, and we all need to be doing this. To stop those mountains from becoming more and more, bigger.

    • ZX3

      The landfill is the highest point in Lorain county.

  • IRAN so_far_away

    What a shame! I drive down Russia Road all the time and smell the nasty stink. Nobody should have to suffer next to such an enormous dump. Keep fighting for what’s left of the neighborhood and hopefully they will try harder to keep clean. The Novak’s are a hardworking farm family and an asset to the community! Too bad seagulls aren’t good eating :(

    • It has to stop

      ” Too bad seagulls aren’t good eating :(

      It’s all in the preparation.

    • outdoorslvr

      Hardworking?? Hahahah.

      • outdoorslvr

        Probably his own garbage blowing around. Ever seen the inside of his house?

        • IRAN so_far_away

          Hiding behind an anonymous screen name with a grudge? Let’s stay on topic and quit slinging mud.

  • John Davidson

    There won’t be as much trash now that the townships got Rumpke to pick up their trash. Found out how much they were being overcharged by Allied. No need for expansion either.

  • Crow

    Saw this on dirty jobs. Humane and effective. Call your local falconry people. They do it in San Francisco… We do have them in Lorain county. (Falconry)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3_ZVtuwIRw

  • Itsmommy

    What an eloquent post! Thank you very much for taking the time to inform us. I hope something can be done to resolve this situation.