VANDALIA — The Vandalia City Council approved a mulch processing facility on Dog Leg Road over the strong objections of nearby residents in Butler Township on Monday evening.
The 5-2 vote came nearly 18 months of complaints, negotiations, and failed mediation attempts after residents began complaining about noise and fear of groundwater contamination. Council Members Candice Farst and Bob Ahlers voted against the measure, consistent with their vote in December when the conditional use was added to the city’s zoning code.
Council Member Richard Herbst made the motion and specified that the facility be moved to the “rear quarter” of the property, further away from Dog Leg Road.
That didn’t sit well with Dan Dutton who lives in Stonequarry Road. He called for residents to vote on the issue.
“You are moving this mulch closer to the Vandalia-Butler City Schools, closer to Vandalia property that is directly behind this facility, and moving mold spores that will come from this facility to each and every one of your houses,” Dutton said. “If you live in the city, I think the residents have the right to vote on this process.”
Michael Neff, who lives on Dog Leg Road, told council that the mulch mounds are keeping groundwater from draining properly thereby causing standing water over a septic system at a nearby church.
“Everything (water) is supposed to fall that way (south) per the septic report I have right here,” he said while holding up a topography map and photos purportedly showing the standing water. “Clearly there is not supposed to be water over a septic system, standing water. That is flooding human waste that has nowhere to go.”
Neff said he feared loss in property value if the mulch processing continued.
“My view is it should go somewhere else,” he said. “It’s just not fair for us to lose our property values, to have to listen to this (mulching), and my dream is crushed.”
In the council meeting packet was evidence, however, that not all the complaints were valid. Vandalia Police were called to the facility at least six times between December 15, 2017 and February 6, 2018 on noise complaints.
In each instance, police reported that the noise complaints were unfounded or took no report. Noise levels from the facility were either non-existent or went no higher than 65 decibels.
The city’s current noise ordinance says that “heavy motor vehicles” must exceed 88 decibels before being declared a nuisance.
Additionally, following a complaint about the facility to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in late February, Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County did an inspection of the facility on March 1.
In a letter to Russ Harris, owner of Harris Seed & Sod that operates the mulching facility, Public Health’s Aaron Florea said there are no violations of EPA regulations.
“Based on our former observations and my recent investigation, your current wood mulch producing operation is compliant with Ohio and Montgomery County solid waste regulations…” wrote Florea.
He also referenced an earlier inspection in May, 2017 after a previous complaint was filed. That inspection came to the “same conclusion.”
In other actions, council:
- Approved an appeal for Bunker’s Bar and Grill to establish a microbrewery at the restaurant on E. National Road. Currently microbreweries are not permitted in the Highway Business District per the city’s Code, however this will likely be addressed in the update of the city’s Code that is currently underway but won’t be finished until mid-year at the earliest.
- Approved a letter of understanding with the Vectren Dayton Air Show to provide police and city services to support the Air Show June 23-24. The city will be reimbursed for any expenses above $21,900. In return, the city receives one Flight Line Chalet with 200 tickets each day of the show along with catering services.
- Approved asphalt bids from Barrett Paving Materials for $61 per ton for Type II asphalt and $63 for Type I asphalt for used by the Public Works and Golf Department.
- Approved raising the city’s threshold for competitive bidding from the current $10,000 to a new limit of $25,000. Council will still be notified prior to a bid award above $10,000 but below $25,000.
- Approved a second reading of an ordinance that eliminated a zoning conflict for the indoor shooting range at Miami Valley Shooting Grounds at 7771 Johnson Station Road.
The Vandalia City Council will hold its next regular meeting on Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. A study session will be held at 6 p.m. in the large conference room in the Municipal Building. Both meetings are open to the public.
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