Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Citizens Share Concerns About EDL Plant At City Council Meeting; Unrelated Resolutions Passed

Local government officials and citizens expressed concerns over the new EDL plant at the Oberlin City Council meeting Monday. City Council also passed several unrelated resolutions approving development along State Route 58, and renewing Oberlin’s partnership with Lorain County Community College.

Over a dozen community members, most of whom live near the EDL plant, expressed their unhappiness about the facility during a public comment section of the meeting. Residents complained about the smell of burning gas, and the noise produced by the plant. Many said the noie made it difficult to sleep. Residents also had concerns about the safety of the plant and their homes’ values decreasing.

“At times, it’s like you’re in a room with an industrial vacuum cleaner running,” Alan Margocs, who lives near the plant and commented at the City Council meeting, told the Review. “It makes it [so that] when it’s running you can’t open the windows – even with the windows closed I have to put on a white noise machine [to sleep].”

EDL officials responded saying that they are currently working on noise mitigation and are committed to remaining within local noise ordinances. The officials also said they had followed all federal and state safety requirements, and included further measures to ensure that the plant was safe for people living nearby. When asked, they said they did not have the necessary information to answer questions about the blast radius of the plant, but that the information had been submitted to the Ohio EPA and was publicly available.

Tom Reeves, director of project delivery, said that the emissions from the current plant are cleaner than the old electrical plant that used to operate at the landfill, and are mostly composed of carbon dioxide and water vapor. He said that toxins are filtered out before emissions are released.

Numerous City Council members expressed unhappiness with EDL’s handling of the plant.

“I am disappointed that, during the City’s review of its plans, EDL was not more forthcoming about the noise disruption now being caused by machinery at the renewable natural gas plant during the commissioning process,” City Councilmember Ray English wrote to the Review in an email. “EDL indicated to the City’s planning commission that it was common for such facilities to be located in close proximity to residential neighborhoods without causing problems. I’m also disappointed that EDL has not given a clear indication about when the noise disruption will end. There are residents living not far from the plant who can’t sleep at night. To me that is simply unacceptable.”

Citizens also complained that they were not given an opportunity to give feedback during the planning and approval phase of the plant. 

“I feel that the City of Oberlin really failed to do due diligence,” Margocs said. “They made no attempt to look and talk to residents before this project even started, and it just got quietly put through.”

English said that the location and functioning of the EDL plant was discussed and approved in numerous public City Council, Public Utility Commission, and Planning Commission meetings, at which there were opportunities for the public to comment.

“I think it is true that there was not broad awareness in the community aWbout decisions related to the plant, as evidenced by the fact that there wasn’t much comment from the public at the various meetings,” English said. “It’s really the commissioning process — with the landfill gas flaring and the noise from the machinery — that has raised community awareness of the plant.”

EDL officials will return for City Council’s next meeting Oct. 2. to answer questions raised this week and address further concerns.  

In the latter half of the meeting, City Council renewed the City’s partnership with LCCC. The program allows Oberlin residents to take free 16–32 week courses and receive certificates in high-demand fields such as advanced manufacturing and healthcare. City Council also approved a zoning request for a parcel of land on State Route 58 that could allow mixed-use residential and commercial development. English said this is only one step in the development process. If the owners of the land want to build there, they will need to have their plans approved by the Planning Commission and City Council.

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