WHEELING - GreenHunter Water must pave its lot, but will be allowed to provide fewer than the normally required number of parking spaces, Wheeling Board of Zoning Appeals members ruled Thursday.
The company's plans to operate a facility to recycle natural gas frack water at the former Seidler's Oil Service site on North 28th Street in Warwood continue to cause public uproar. GreenHunter officials appeared before the Wheeling board Thursday requesting two variances. One sought to reduce the required number of parking spaces at the facility from 34 to 13, while the other would have allowed a gravel parking area instead of concrete or asphalt.
John Jack, vice president of business operations for GreenHunter, and project architect Michael Scott told board members that with a planned staff of 12, the plant will not need the amount of parking prescribed by the city's formula of one space per 400 square feet of building area.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Wheeling Board of Zoning Appeals Chairman Martin Sheehan, right, examines site drawings as board member David Ellwood looks on during a Thursday meeting.
The 90-minute meeting saw a dozen people address concerns to board members, including city Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge and state Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, who is also a Warwood resident. Most of the opposition was directed toward the request to maintain a gravel parking area rather than pave the site.
One issue raised was the potential for heavy trucks to kick up large amounts of dust driving on gravel. Residents also questioned how effective GreenHunter Water's spill containment measures could be if the lot were not paved.
"If any spills go on gravel, it's just going to go into the ground. ... If this is going to go through, we've got to protect the people," said Warwood resident Tom Triveri.
Kate Marshall said she was troubled by the fact GreenHunter was even asking permission to avoid paving its parking lot.
"If this company is already asking for shortcuts, I think it leaves us a concern for what's to come," Marshall said.
Also urging the board to require GreenHunter Water pave its parking lot was Robert Slabaugh, who lives at the corner of North 28th Street and Warwood Avenue.
He said he likes to see new businesses coming to Wheeling, but added dust is already an issue with trucks going to other nearby businesses.
"I bought this home as my last stop, and I don't want to have to move," Slabaugh said.
Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, also expressed his desire to see jobs created in the area, but said if a paved parking lot would aid in spill containment, the company should be held to that requirement.
Other residents speaking against GreenHunter Water's requests were Michael Voellinger, Dave Cupp, Patricia Jacobsen, Bernie Glenn, Toni Brancazio and James Cobb.
Jack said trucks will be parked on a concrete containment pad at all times while offloading brine water for treatment, and any spills would flow through drains into an underground storage tank and be piped back into the facility to be processed.
Following the lengthy discussion, board members approved the variance for required parking spaces in a 4-1 vote, with David Ellwood, Martin Sheehan, Sherry Sligar and Steve Johnston in favor and Ronald Sinclair against. They then denied the request to maintain the gravel parking lot in a unanimous decision, one that met with a round of applause as the meeting adjourned.
Tom Connelly, assistant director of the Economic and Community Development Department, said the company must submit its formal site plan to the city by May 28 in order to get on the agenda for the Planning Commission's June 10 meeting.
GreenHunter officials believe a 40-foot-wide easement that crosses the Heritage Trail between the proposed recycling plant site and the river gives them the right to use an existing underground line to pipe water from its facility onto barges. However, the trail and riverbank are zoned residential, and the city maintains the company will need a zone change in order to use the barge terminal.
"They've been made aware of the city's position on that, so we'll wait and see what type of site plan they submit," Connelly said.
GreenHunter officials plan to attend a community meeting concerning their plan to recycle natural gas frack water in Warwood at 7 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St., Wheeling.