Monday, October 28, 2002

Fairfield council poised to say no to sludge



By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - City Council is expected to reject a proposal tonight from Greater Cincinnati Water Works to put a sludge pit for lime residue behind some of the most expensive homes here.

Dozens of residents are expected to pack council chambers, bringing petitions with about 1,000 signatures against the pit, according to one homeowners association representative.

But officials at the utility say they still hope the matter can be resolved and continue to maintain suing Fairfield for the right to build the pit for lime residue is not an option.

They may be forced to locate the pit elsewhere, but have no sites picked out yet.

David Rager, director of Greater Cincinnati Water Works, did say, however, the public outcry from residents over the proposal has stunned him and is more than the utility has ever encountered.

"We are still determined to work this out with the community, but it's a surprise because we are talking about something that is essentially dirt," Mr. Rager said. "Lime is crushed limestone. It is not hazardous material."

In the most cantankerous issues to hit Fairfield's 42,000 residents in years, Water Works wants to put a 9-acre sludge pit behind some 250 to 300 homes that average $300,000 in sale price. The pit will be capped in 30 years.

Water Works needs to build a new pit and wants to put it on land they already own in Fairfield, where their water plant isBut Fairfield neighbors vow to launch a referendum to overturn a council approval of the pit, which would sit about one-third mile behind Riverside Estates and the Monastery.

Gregory Sunday, vice president of the Monastery Homeowners Association, said citizens do not want council working out a compromise with Water Works at the last minute.

"City Council needs to understand that we want their no to mean no," Mr. Sunday said.

In light of mounting residential objections, Mr. Holtegel, who motioned to approve the pit at the planning commission, now says he will not support it.

Another member of the planning commission was so infuriated over council's likelihood in denying the pit after all the public debate and research put into the matter, he quit Oct. 11 and essentially called council cowards in his resignation letter.

While relocating the pit outside Fairfield is an option, Mr. Rager said, he doubts neighbors would support that, either.

"I don't know if residents would be happy with that because now we're trucking it onto the roadways," he said of the lime residue. "It's not the most responsible thing to do."

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.



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