Committee passes resolution opposing SOBE plant from moving in
For months, Youngstown City Council members have voiced their concerns about the safety of SOBE's proposed waste-to-energy plant that would be located in Downtown Youngstown, less than a half mile southwest of Youngstown State.
A new resolution from the council's environmental committee is yet another step in the process to try and stop SOBE Thermal Energy from moving in.
Committee members and the city's law director explain how this resolution could impact the controversial business moving forward.
"It gives formality to everybody's objections and opposition," explained Seventh Ward Councilwoman Basia Adamczak.
Members from Youngstown council's environment committee are banning together, passing a resolution detailing a unified opposition of SOBE's Waste to Energy plant Thursday evening at the Newport Library on Youngstown's South Side.
"The city is officially putting everyone on notice that we're going to stop this from happening," said Youngstown Law Director Jeff Limbian.
With potential distrust that the EPA won't hear out the public's concerns, the committee, comprised of Anita Davis, Basia Adamczak and Julius Oliver, felt the resolution was needed to sound the alarm.
Limbian claimed in Thursday's meeting that the EPA is a "silo." He believes resident's concerns to the EPA "will fall on deaf ears."
Youngstown Council President Tom Hetrick explained this resolution can't necessarily change any type of law from preventing SOBE from moving in, but it can encourage different government entities, including the EPA, to pay more attention to Youngstown's concern.
"It doesn't really prevent us from allowing SOBE to come," Adamczak explained, "but it's a piece of legislation that now we can take to the EPA to anyone else to show them we are standing in unity and we have a piece of legislation stating that we are completely opposed to them operating here."
"They're moving in a positive direction," said Lynn Anderson with SOBE Concerned Citzens. "More must be done, of course. The zoning issue needs to be totally fleshed out."
The next step from here is ensuring SOBE can't squeeze through any loopholes in the city's current zoning laws preventing the company from moving in.
"We've engaged a zoning expert to make sure when there is a zoning permit request," explained Limbian. "We know how to respond to determine whether it is an appropriate place for a facility. We don't believe it is, and now we're going to have to demonstrate that."
Public Works Director Chuck Shasho explained the property is a mixed-use community zone, which means SOBE legally can not place a waste-to-energy plant in the area.
"There is enough we can do to slow the process down to analyze more clearly," Limbian added. "That would be through zoning, design review and the planning commission."
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Anita Davis also sparked concern that the project involves racial injustice, moving a controversial facility into an area like Youngstown.
The committee will present the resolution to the council next month. It is expected council as a whole will support the resolution.
The EPA has yet to grant the final permits to SOBE.