Belmont County commissioners voted Wednesday to advance the County Port Authority $50,000 to begin the installation of electrical service to the East Ohio Industrial Park in Barnesville, but Commissioner Ginny Favede said the authority should receive no money from the commission unless it halts a plan to bring industrial waste into a proposed landfill at the park.
The Port Authority initially supported a proposal by the Energreen company to transport drill cuttings from the oil and gas industry to the park to fill unused areas, then level them for future development.
After protests from the community, Port Authority board members opted to table Energreen's plans pending further investigation.
Photo by Joselyn King
Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede, right, and commission clerk Jayne Long review information during Wednesday’s meeting.
Commissioners, meanwhile, voted 2-0 on the electrical service measure, with Matt Coffland and Mark Thomas voting in favor and Favede abstaining.
"I do not want to appear to be against development at the industrial park," Favede said. "But we're still dealing with the possibility of having an industrial waste site in the park. I've gone on the record that I do not support having that in Belmont County. I cannot in good faith provide money to the industrial park unless the board prohibits Energreen or (similar businesses) from being in that industrial park."
Thomas said the issue of providing electrical service to the park was vital and separate from the landfill issue.
"You will not have any tenants purchasing any property in that park without electricity," he said. "I respect your opinion. I just don't understand it. ... This is a trunk line that will (serve) the entire park when it is completed. It is not just for one specific purchaser. Others will connect to it as the park grows. This has nothing to do with fracking, and nothing to do with Energreen."
Barnesville residents present at the meeting said they believe suspending money for infrastructure at the park is a way to pressure the Port Authority into killing the landfill proposal for good. But Coffland said it was "ridiculous" for the county to hold up potential growth at the park over the landfill matter.
"We cannot hold up progress because we're worried about this, or we're worried about that," Coffland said. "We have held up a road project (the Interstate 70/Mall Road connector projector) for two stinking years because we were worried about taking 40 feet from somebody's yard ... We held up a $24 million project.
"This (landfill) project has been tabled. I think we've got a good feeling from the board that it's going nowhere... Are we supposed to stop this county over one project? I'm telling you straight up I will not."
The Port Authority is to repay the county the $50,000 advanced to them within the next 90 days.