'Sobe Concerned Citizens' look at new ways to stop waste-to-energy plant
Concerned members of the Youngstown community aren't giving up in their fight to stop the proposed SOBE Energy Plant from moving into the city.
The facility would be located at the old Youngstown Thermal building on North Avenue and convert waste into energy but many living nearby say they aren't getting all of the answers from the company they need on if it's safe.
Possible solutions were discussed Thursday as ways to stop the process, with the help of Youngstown Council.
"We've come from many different angles and we've talked to many different people," said Susie Beiersdorfer, member of Sobe Concerned Citizens.
Youngstown Council President Tom Hetrick wrote a letter to the Ohio EPA asking about permit updates and how it's decided if the plant is safe.
In a detailed response back, the Director of the Ohio EPA said, 'Authorization from Ohio EPA for this project would not supersede any safety requirements from other authorities, such as OSHA, the local fire department, or local zoning authority.'
The community is now relying on a potential zoning law that would restrict Sobe from moving in.
"That to me tells us we do have the authority to regulate land use within the city limits," said Tom Hetrick, Youngstown City Council President. "I'm just trying to get answers to questions I know residents have."
The current parcel where the plant would go is a zoned mixed-use community.
"That's for restaurants, bars, schools, churches and businesses," Hetrick explained. "It's not for industrial purposes."
This means when fuel is produced with the waste products, the property becomes an industrial use, which becomes a zoning violation.
"You cannot take something that's grandfathered in and expand and intensify that use," Hetrick explained.
"The zoning thing has really been a golden nugget that we really weren't looking at," Beiersdorfer said.
"I'm optimistic at this point," said Douglas Fowler of McDonald. "We have to consider this. Are we just wide open? Do people perceive our area as a place you can come, take advantage of the desperation of jobs and try to sell anything? I think there's hope in this case."
Continued efforts to put a stop to a potentially hazardous plant to protect future generations to come.
Now if zoning violations aren't a solution, Hetrick told 21 News they could possibly implement a moratorium based on the gasification process. The community says they want a permanent solution to keep Sobe out.
Sobe is still waiting on EPA's gasification permit.