Friday, July 16, 1999

Group seeks aid in sewage plant fight

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — Residents fighting to keep a sewage treatment plant out of western Boone County are hopeful they gained allies Thursday night on the Boone County Board of Education.

        About 60 residents of Belleview Bottoms, Rabbit Hash and other areas in and around western Boone County attended the school board meeting Thursday looking for support for their cause.

        John Arrasmith of Belleview Bottoms, the leader and spokesman of the opposition group, asked that a letter against construction of the plant be sent from the board to state regulators and environmental officials.

        Sanitation District No. 1 of Northern Kentucky has proposed building the plant on 100 acres along the Ohio River just outside Belleview Bottoms. The site is less than two miles upriver from Kelly Elementary School.

        “We need you in this effort,” Mr. Arrasmith told school board members during the meeting, which had to be moved from the board office to a nearby elementary school to accommodate the crowd.

        Board members said they did not yet have enough information to join the fight. But several members, as well as Superintendent Bryan Blavatt, said they want more information about the plant and the group's concerns. “This board can't take an action on the plant until it is farther along in the process,” said board Chairwoman Carrie Dickman.

        “Right now we are in the same fact-finding mission you are in. I would ask that you stay in contact with us and that you continue to provide us with the same information you gather ... so we can make a better-informed decision,” she said.

        Board members Ed Massey and Shawn Carroll also said they want to stay in touch with members of the opposition group and will try to attend the group's next meeting, scheduled for July 22 at Belleview Baptist Church.

        “I'm happy,” said Mr. Arrasmith. “I think they are going to listen to what we have to say, and they are open to hearing our concerns.”

        Last week, three state legislators from Northern Kentucky — Sen. Dick Roeding of Lakeside Park, Rep. Paul Marcotte of Union and Rep. Charlie Walton of Florence — pledged their support to the group. The three said they will try to convince state regulators who must approve permits for the plant that it would be better-suited to another location.

        “We've fought a lot of battles in western Boone County, keeping gravel mines and a jail out of our community,” said resident Kevin Peach. “And we're going to fight this sewage plant because it doesn't belong in a place that will have such a huge impact on a school and a community.”

        Resident Alice Ryle said residents fear the plant would contaminate an aquifer that runs beneath the Ohio River and provides drinking water to the school and community.

        “We're putting kids and people at risk if that plant goes there,” she said.


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