Friday, May 21, 1999

Application for landfill halted


Whitewater deed won't allow dump

BY RACHEL MELCER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WHITEWATER TOWNSHIP — Developer Rodney Gibbons wants to add a construction and demolition debris landfill to the refuse pits already dotting this western Hamilton County area.

        But he learned at a public meeting Wednesday night that his plan may be the only thing going to waste.

        Hamilton County Health Commissioner Timothy Ingram told about 30 Whitewater Township residents — most opposed to the landfill — that the deed to the 18-acre parcel on Ohio 128 carries a restriction. It stipulates that “there shall be no commercial dumping of trash” on the land.

        So the health department will no longer consider licensing the proposed landfill, Mr. Ingram said, unless Mr. Gibbons successfully challenges the deed restriction in court.

        The health commissioner told residents that he did not know about the restriction until late Wednesday afternoon, and that he was told by the former landowner.

        Mr. Gibbons knew all along.

        “I'm aware of the deed,” he said, but disagreed with the health department's interpretation of it. “I don't feel like I'm breaking any agreement whatsoever. ... We'll steadfastly go after this.”

        Mr. Gibbons and others involved in Miamiview Investments Inc. had hoped to build an 11-acre, 70-foot-high landfill on the scenic valley spot. The landfill would be built on a creek that feeds into the Great Miami River, although the creek would be protected.

        Township trustees passed a resolution against the landfill last week, although they have no power to stop its being built.

        And an unsigned flier pro testing the project circulated through the community. It read: “Whitewater Township — the landfill capital of Ohio — is getting another landfill. ... We are becoming the dumping ground for the rest of southwest Ohio. ... We don't want it, and we don't need it.”

        Residents who came to the hearing prepared for battle were disappointed when presentations by the developer were called off. But they were pleased to have made progress without putting up a fight.

        “We're definitely concerned. It definitely affects our property values,” said Val McKenzie, whose mother lives next to the proposed landfill.

        The township attracts land fills, in part because it has no zoning code to keep them out or restrict them. The county is responsible for licensing and regulating disposal sites.

        That's what prompted the former land owner, Harold Hopping, to place a restriction on the deed, according to Hubert Brown, president of the township board of trustees. Mr. Hopping declined to comment on the matter.

        The unusual approach to control land use slipped right by the health department because it is so rare — every other area of Hamilton County has a zoning code, Mr. Ingram said.

        As a result of this incident, the health department will be gin conducting title searches on all property where someone is applying for a landfill license, he said.

        Even if the deed restriction had not been uncovered, Mr. Gibbons would have had some work to do to gain a license. The health commissioner drafted a letter outlining several deficiencies in the license application, including a lack of information on how the landfill would be monitored and maintained and how the valley stream would be protected.

        The matter is now in the hands of lawyers.

        “This will be a battle, or a disagreement, or a contention between the attorneys,” Mr. Ingram said.

       



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