VANDALIA — The Vandalia City Council approved adding a provision to the city’s Zoning Code that would allow mulch processing as a conditional use in the agricultural district.
That decision didn’t come easy, however, and came despite the impassioned pleas from Butler Township residents who live near an existing mulch processing facility that operates at 8890 Dog Leg Road.
Shirley Hackstadt, who lives across from the existing mulch processing facility, said it is a health hazard.
“It is a very dangerous health hazard,” said Hackstadt. “This summer I came down with two new diseases I had never had before, my allergies have gotten worse, and there is still a lot of dust that comes from the mulching facility.”
Hackstadt also said there was so much noise she has to wear ear plugs inside her house.
“It is also hard to cross Dog Leg Road to get our mail because of all the trucks, traffic, and speeders,” she said.
Full video of the meeting can be seen here:
Rodney Leighner also lives on Dog Leg Road and said the mulching facility presents residents with adverse quality of life conditions including noise, water and air pollution, decreased property values, and liability.
Dan Dutton, who lives on Stonequarry Road, expressed concern about traffic.
“It’s not not just individuals, after a storm it looks like a parade of groundskeepers and trailers coming down Stonequarry Road with debris all over their vehicles and falling onto the road,” Dutton said. “The worst section of Dog Leg runs between National and Stonequarry Roads. It is not up to par for that much traffic.”
The vote was not without drama – Council Member Bob Ahler’s changed his vote from the first reading and joined Council Member Candice Farst in a motion to deny the ordinance.
“I don’t see any evidence that the owner of this property and this business is willing and implementing anything that we are putting forth,” said Ahlers. “Therefore I’m swinging my vote to a no tonight. It was established without approval…and this application belongs in Industrial (Zoning).”
“If this passes, we are saying this can go in other applicable locations in the City of Vandalia that are now zoned agricultural,” said Farst. “Our job up here is to do what’s in the best interest of the city, and I have that question too. I do not see anything with letting this go through that is a positive in our city.”
Farst’s motion to deny the ordinance failed by a 5-2 vote and then a subsequent vote to approve the ordinance passed by an identical 5-2 vote.
Some of the conditions required of a mulch processing facility include a minimum lot of 10 acres; grinding and equipment operation allowed only between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; adherance to all environmental regulations; adequate screening as a noise and visual buffer; an operational plan; and other requirements – all of which are subject to city approval for the granting of a Conditional Use Permit.
Law Director Jerry McDonald stressed that passage did not mean that the existing much facility would automatically be granted a permit – the owner will still be required to apply for the permit and abide by the restrictions in the ordinance.