Discussions heat up over landfill, zoning

NEGLEY– Zoning has been a recurring conversation in Middleton Township as discussion heated up further regarding the PennOhio Waste landfill in Negley at Wednesday’s meeting.

The process remains unclear to the residents on how to approach the zoning issue, and Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman emphasized that it is a lengthy process that would likely involve an attorney.

“It’s not up to the township to initiate zoning,” Chapman said. “It’s up to a group of individuals who want to ban together.”

Trustee Gregory Lipp pointed out the problem with the zoning is that they wouldn’t be able to use any township money to hire an attorney or to fight the dump.

Lipp said he recently spoke with someone who has the name of a group of environmentalists out of Pittsburgh who would potentially take care of the situation at no cost. A woman then identified the organization as Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, but Lipp was unable to confirm that. Lipp said the organization would possibly file a new lawsuit every day until PennOhio couldn’t afford the legal costs and would have to close the landfill.

When Lipp spoke with Kurt Princic, chief of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Northeast District, he told him there was a sense of hopelessness from the Negley residents. Princic said that if he sees the evidence himself, he would issue a citation.

Negley resident Chad Davidson said he has records and documentation of wrong-doings, and he is losing faith in the OEPA, since they have dismissed the case despite seeing his proof of contamination.

“I’ve done all this reporting and have showed them these videos, and there hasn’t been one citation,” Davidson said. “I’m really starting to lose faith in them.”

Don Voss, a concerned citizen who does not live in Negley, said Princic told him that he had given several fines to PennOhio, while Lipp said Princic told him there were no fines given. Voss also proposed that Negley become an incorporated village in order to hire a police force, but Lipp said the township doesn’t have much surplus now just to keep things running the way they are.

“If we subdivided and became an incorporated village, we’d have more power to fight the dump,” Voss said. “We have no power to hire law enforcement. With no law enforcement, they are getting off easy.”

Another Negley resident pointed out that people around town wake up for work and have children that go to school, but it is hard to sleep with all of the noise that the landfill generates.

“There has to be something you can do,” the woman said. “I know you’ve said there is nothing you can do, but we have to make their lives just as miserable as they are making ours.”

Trustees seem to be at a standstill, with limited options to move forward. The next step to get zoning is an uphill climb, but residents have expressed that they are willing to do what it takes to solve the problem.