The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Monday, November 24, 2003

Land sale creates worries


Neighbors fear
landfill is on way

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By Cary Snyder
Herald Staff Writer

As a child, Joni Dobran played in the woods across the street from her Hubbard Township home.

While those days have passed, the property between Drummond Avenue and Mount Everett Road may also undergo a transformation in the coming months.

The 260 acres, formerly owned by Midwest Steel, were purchased earlier this year by Trans Rail America Inc. of Riverdale, Md., and local residents fear the company will turn the area into a landfill.

"It's a beautiful piece of property," Ms. Dobran said. "It's a shame. I know there have to be landfills, but why they would put it in an area that has homes is beyond me. Our biggest fear is it would contaminate our wells."

Nearly two-thirds of the land is category 3 wetlands, the highest level in the state. If the trees were cut down, township Trustee Fred Hanley said it would further damage Little Yankee Run Creek, which has had recent flooding problems.

"They're going into an area of the township with no public water and no sewers," Hanley said. "To further denigrate the land with a landfill of all things is only going to compound the problem."

If the land is turned into a landfill, it would likely reduce property values in the township. It should also be easy to fill because, according to the office of state Sen. Marc Dann, the dumping rates in Ohio are cheaper than in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky.

"They're trying to turn this state into a dump," said Robert Gaut, who lives on Drummond. "I think it's about time people say enough's enough and do something about it. Let them go somewhere else.

"You don't quit fighting until you get your butt whipped."

Dann helped to write Bill 119, which Sen. Robert Spada has sponsored and introduced in the Senate.

If passed, the bill would help increase the dumping rates in Ohio and ensure that no landfill could be located within 200 feet of a stream, lake or category 3 wetland.

"One of the reasons I'm against the landfill is because if they contaminate our water, we're screwed," Gaut said.

Gaut and Ms. Dobran have helped raise awareness of the potential landfill by writing e-mails to friends and initiating a petition drive.

"No matter what they're doing in there, we're going to be watching them," Dobran said of Trans Rail America.

Heavy machinery has been moved into the area and although landowners are permitted to log their sites, special rules apply for logging wetlands.

Hanley, who has lived in Hubbard Township since he was 8 years old, said Trans Rail America has to clear several hurdles, including federal and state hearings along with a zoning modification, before the landfill becomes a reality.

He has contacted the company about the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund, which provides grants to purchase the wetland area so it can be preserved.

"I've lived here since 1957," Gaut said. "I've watched the town grow and if they put a landfill in, it's going to go backwards."

You can e-mail Herald staff writer Cary Snyder at snyderc@sharonherald.com

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