If a preliminary injunction issued by Ottawa County Common Pleas Court Judge Bruce Winters against operators of a quarry in Benton Township remains in effect, it will put the City of Toledo in jeopardy of not meeting mandates set by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, attorneys for the quarry argue in filings last week with the Ohio Supreme Court.
They also contend Judge Winters’ granting of an injunction undermines “…the very statewide regulatory scheme created by the General Assembly, and implemented by the OEPA, to address how best to beneficially use Drinking Water Treatment Material (DWTM) throughout the State of Ohio.”
Judge Winters issued the injunction last month against Rocky Ridge Development, LLC, and Custom Ecology of Ohio at the request of the Benton Township trustees, who claim the quarry is violating township zoning regulations by mixing spent lime from Toledo’s water treatment plant with soil and burying it in cells at the quarry where the property is zoned for A-3 agricultural use.
The judge also denied a motion filed by the OEPA to intervene in the case. The agency had argued the county court lacked jurisdiction.
The OEPA issued a Land Application Management Permit to Rocky Ridge Development in 2014.
In last week’s filing for a writ of prohibition against the judge, the quarry operators contend without it, “Respondent (Judge Winters) will continue to exercise jurisdiction over a matter which the General Assembly placed in the hands of the OEPA and Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC), not Ohio’s courts of common pleas.”
They were responding to a brief Judge Winters filed earlier with the Supreme Court in which he contends the county court does have jurisdiction and a writ of prohibition can’t be used as a substitute for an appeal.
Residents fear the lime sludge endangers an aquifer that is the source of their drinking water.
In their request for an injunction, the township trustees argue the quarry operators have applied for one zoning certificate for a “farm pond” but haven’t been issued the required certificates yet “continue to work in violation” of the township zoning regulations.
“Ohio law has recognized that the spreading of sludge on agricultural property for agricultural purposes was exempt from township zoning authority. In this case, the waste being spread is industrial waste, not for agricultural purposes and much of it is being spread on non-agriculturally zoned property. Indeed, the stated reason for placing this waste on the subject property is to increase elevation and improve drainage of low lying areas. This clearly violates the zoning resolution,” the injunction request says.