Columbiana facility waits for ODNR approval

COLUMBIANA - A company using a site near a residential area to wash its trucks that haul fracking fluid remains closed until it receives the proper permit through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The truck washing facility used by Clear Creek at the corner of the M&S Truck Stop on state Route 14 ceased operations following a special Aug. 18 planning commission meeting in which the board determined it would not approve their operations without an ODNR permit, which is required.

City Manager Lance Willard confirmed on Friday the company has not yet received the permit, and Bob Yallech, who is serving as Clear Creek's legal counsel, said he is optimistic the company will continue operations there in the future.

"We are waiting to get permitted. We have an engineer who is doing his work and our due diligence, and we expect once his work is done, to obtain a permit," he said.

The engineer he was referring to is one working for the ODNR, who will determine whether a permit should be issued.

According to minutes of the Aug. 18 meeting, Andrew Adgate at the ODNR told Planning Commission Chair Donna Bekar the company would need a facilities permit and the site would need to be inspected by the department prior to a permit being issued.

The company has already agreed to adhere to the city's stipulations for operating in that location, Yallech said, and those include operating indoors except when it is hot outside, putting down a 12-inch foam rubber material on the floor of the building and exit and entrance to contain spills, installing a 48-inch poly lining on the walls, and containing the outside storage tanks.

"In fact, not only are we going to adhere to them, we are going to exceed and be a good neighbor. We have already done everything that council wanted us to do with the exception of getting the ODNR to sign off," he added.

Yallech attended the Aug. 18 meeting and had provided the board with a copy of the company's brine transportation certificate at that time. However, the board was not satisfied with the certificate alone.

Yallech said during that meeting the company had already applied for a permit through the ODNR.

Mayor and commission member Bryan Blakeman-who lives in the nearby residential area-hopes the operations will not continue, at least in that location.

"I have nothing against them operating, I just think that intersection is a very commercial spot to be doing something that requires a permit from the ODNR because of chemicals," he said, adding he is concerned the fluids could end up in the nearby creek.

He also pointed out the company is located directly across the road from the planned Town Center and Marketplace at Firestone Farms development that will feature outdoor dining and other recreational attractions.

"It doesn't sit well to me that those people may be sitting outside at an outdoor restaurant staring at that going on during the day. They are welcome in Columbiana, but I think that spot is about to be one of the busiest sections in Columbiana," he said.

He added the site is "prime real estate" for development that will not potentially be "tied up" by a business that is not even located in Columbiana or a benefit to the city.

Clear Creek is owned by Dynamic Structures Inc., located along state Route 7 in New Waterford.

The truck washing facility was constructed by the company for its container trucks only and features a 40-by-80-foot wash bay that holds a maximum of 120 barrels of fluid, according to information provided by safety manager Rob Duncan to the commission on Aug. 18.

Should the company receive the ODNR permit and continue operations, it can only do so between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., according to the meeting minutes. That timeframe was a condition handed down by the commission on the basis that the operations could generate noise.

Blakeman said when the company was operating he could hear a low vibrating noise in his home, located on the far side of the Firestone Farms development, during the wee hours of the morning.

"You could hear it at 2 to 3 or 4 a.m. I asked them if they were doing this at night, they said yes they are," he said.

Other residents also complained of the noise, with some telling him they called the police, he said, but when contacted Friday Chief Tim Gladis said there were no noise complaints listed for that specific business in the database, which goes back several years. He also checked under Dynamic Structures and M&S Truck Stop.

Municipal Attorney Daniel Blasdell said last month he visited the site and was concerned about noise, and it was his suggestion to restrict business to daytime hours only.

Blakeman and commission member Ron LaLonde were the only two who opposed voting on the matter before the ODNR permit was even issued.

With the other three in favor, the company can operate if and when an ODNR permit is received. The location is zoned C4, which is why commission member Crystal Siembida-Boggs voted yes.

"I voted the way I did because I couldn't find a reason why we couldn't have them come into town, as long as they followed all the EPA regulations and did everything by the law, there is nothing in our books that say they can't be here," she said.

Like Blakeman, she said she would have preferred to see the company located in an industrial area, but C4 allows for an intensive, automobile oriented commercial district.

She wasn't especially pleased that the company never notified the city it was operating there locally.

"When they came to us at the planning commission that was the first time we found that they had been operating. Personally that is a major concern of mine because there are several businesses that have come in operating before coming to the planning commission, just assuming that we are going to say yes and that everything is fine and dandy and that is not really the way it is, and that is not the way it should be," she said.

Yallech did not wish to comment on that matter when asked.

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