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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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        A motion filed by the Benton Township trustees for summary judgment to block certain operations at a township quarry has been granted by Ottawa County Common Pleas Court Judge Bruce Winters.

        In his ruling, the judge wrote that Rocky Ridge Development, LLC, was digging pits in agriculturally-zoned land and mixing spent lime from the City of Toledo water treatment plant and burying it in the pits.

        “This activity does not constitute a permitted use under the Benton Township zoning regulations in an A-3 (agriculture) district although defendants (Rocky Ridge Development) are properly engaged in the activity in the M-3 (heavy industrial) district,” Judge Winters wrote. “The court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a permanent injunction is necessary to prevent irreparable harm and that plaintiff does not have an equitable remedy at law. Thus, the motion for summary judgment filed by Benton Township is granted.”

        Residents fear the lime sludge endangers an aquifer that is the source of their drinking water.

        A bench trial set to start March 18 has been cancelled, according to the court docket.

        "The Benton Township Quarry Dumping Opposition is pleased with the ruling granting the permanent injunction.  Together we would like to thank Ottawa County Prosecutor James Vaneerten and Ottawa County Common Pleas Judge Bruce Winters for their time and attention to this important case.  Water is our most valuable resource and we need to protect it for our families and for future generations.  This is another example of ‘if you see something say something.’  Without observant neighbors and the support of area residents willing to come together for a common cause this situation might have gone on unchecked.  We hope our efforts inspire others to be aware, research and take action," Brenda Weidner, a member of the group and resident who lives near the quarry, said.

        In 2014, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a Land Application Management Permit to Rocky Ridge Development, allowing the company to use spent lime in a soil blend to increase elevation, and improve drainage around the quarry. The permit was amended in February 2017 but within weeks the township trustees filed a complaint in common pleas court alleging that Rocky Ridge Development and Stansley Industries were violating the permit and local zoning regulations and creating a public nuisance.

        In a motion filed last year with the court, attorneys for Rocky Ridge Development argued the township’s zoning regulations are in conflict with state law.

        Citing Ohio Revised Code, the motion says the Ohio EPA has the authority to regulate the disposal of industrial wastes. Also, Ohio Administrative Code further allows the “beneficial use of industrial wastes, particularly drinking water treatment material (such as spent lime) from the treatment of a public water system’s source water supply.”

        “Under the regulatory scheme, a beneficial use may include but is not limited to use for agronomic benefit as a replacement of a raw material; as a soil amendment, fertilizer or structural fill, or as fill,” the motion says.

        Vaneerten, representing the township, countered that the local zoning regulations were compatible with state law.

        “The purpose of a zoning resolution or ordinance is quite separate and distinct from that of an Ohio EPA regulation, since the former controls land usage in an area while the latter concerns the procedures for protecting the environment and its inhabitants,” his response to the Rocky Ridge Development motion says. “In the instant case, the LAMP permit issued by the state does not mean the defendants can conduct activities in Benton Township where the use classifications are violated. It certainly does not permit the defendants to completely ignore the zoning code as they have done in this case.”

       

 

Universal Income

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