By Kelly J. Kaczala
Press News Editor
OREGON - A long-time opponent of Envirosafe, a hazardous waste facility on Otter Creek Road, requested copies of public records that document communications between the city and company on its proposed landfill expansion.
Joann Schiavone requested the information during a tense hour long exchange with city officials at a council meeting Monday.
Mayor Marge Brown was particularly singled out for comments she made in an article that appeared in the Jan. 3 edition of The Press in which she said she met with Envirosafe President Doug Roberts last year to discuss possible support for a limited expansion of Cell M, its only active landfill.
Brown had been vigorously opposed to any expansion since Envirosafe submitted a permit modification to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency early last year that requests approval to increase the current height of Cell M from 45 feet up to 125 feet.
Without the vertical expansion, Cell M, built in 1991, will be filled in just a few years.
In return for support, the city discussed getting an increase in the tipping fee Oregon annually receives from Envirosafe, currently .90 per ton of waste dumped in Cell M, or deed restrictions on 40 acres of company property south of York Street to prevent the future construction of another landfill, Brown had said in the article.
Brown's comments sparked such a furor that even former Mayor James Haley, who spent years fighting Envirosafe, urged the city not to back down in an article that appeared in The Press last week.
Brown denied meeting with Roberts to negotiate support for limited expansion.
"Doug Roberts and I have met several times, nothing to do with the expansion," she said at the meeting.
Schiavone is seeking records because she believes the city suppressed reports of two consultants hired last year to review the proposed expansion, she later said to The Press. Both consultants, Dr. Charles Moore, of Ohio State University, and ARCADIS, an international engineering firm, had concluded in separate reports that Envirosafe's design plans do not meet the safety factor established by the Ohio EPA for deep seated failure of the landfill's liner system.
The Ohio EPA, which has said that slope stability is "a major consideration in evaluating the permit modification," just received copies of the reports about two weeks ago. It expects to decide on the permit modification this month.
Schiavone, an opponent of Envirosafe for 18 years, wanted to know why ARCADIS was hired after Moore's report was completed. Moore, hired last June for $15,000, raised more concerns about Envirosafe's designs than ARCADIS, hired last November for $17,000.
ARCADIS was hired, Brown had said in the Jan. 10 issue of The Press, because Tom Hays, the city's assistant law director who represents Oregon on environmental matters, may have influenced Moore's report by recommending his employment.
Instead of responding to Schiavone's question, Brown referred her to a letter to the editor she wrote that appeared in The Press last week in which she insists she is not dropping her opposition to Envirosafe.
"If you would read my letter to the editor, you would see what really is my stand on Envirosafe and not the article," said Brown, who complained the headline, "Mayor May Drop Opposition to Landfill," did not represent her comments in the article.
Brown also objected to a headline she said appeared last November in The Press, `Mayor Brown Hires an Assistant to Dick Friess.'
"That was another one that was so far-fetched," she said.
Brown was referring to a headline in the Nov. 18 edition of The Press that actually said, "Friess Hurt by Plan to Hire Assistant."
The Press stands behind the accuracy of both headlines and articles.
Schivonne raised concerns that ARCADIS may have been hired because Moore's report was too critical of Envirosafe.
Council President Mike Sheehy said the recommendation to hire ARCADIS came from Brown and Administrator Ken Filipiak.
"Of course it was brought before council and there was some discussion on council's part," said Sheehy. "Council concurred with the suggestion of the administration."
Filipiak rejected any suggestion that Moore's report was biased. He defended the city's hiring of both consultants, "who offer two different perspectives."
"They complement each other, and the city is simply being thorough," he said.
Schiavone asked whether Moore's report ever was shared with city council.
Councilman Jerry Peach asked City Law Director Paul Goldberg if the report he had delivered to him that evening was Moore's.
Goldberg said it was the ARCADIS report.
"Is Dr. Moore's report here as well?" asked Peach.
"I don't think it's there," said Goldberg.
Filipiak said Moore's report has been disclosed to council "verbally in meetings such as this and in individual discussions."
Peach agreed, saying he's had "numerous conversations" with Hays by phone to discuss Moore's findings.
Sheehy also said council has had "ongoing discussions with Hays and Goldberg concerning the application for expansion and both studies."
Councilman Jeff Keller said it was clear by council's vote to hire the consultants "we all stand united in opposition to expansion."
"I don't have the technical expertise to attack the expansion, so we on council felt it was best to hire the experts who have the ability to challenge it."
Councilman Matt Szollosi said he was confident both consultants had "very high credentials," and that the Ohio EPA should review both reports.
"I expect the Ohio EPA...to take the recommendations and concerns raised by these reports very seriously and to reject the application for expansion. It'll be incumbent upon everybody to make sure the house is packed for the public hearing."
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