COLUMBIANA - The Fairfield Township Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved an additional conditional use application from Buckeye Transfer regarding "expansion needs" at the former National Refractories site during a public hearing Tuesday night.
Last month, Zoning Inspector Kymberly Seabolt told trustees that Buckeye Transfer wanted the additional uses for what it was calling a "full-service" truck and transfer terminal at the site.
In June, the appeals board approved a conditional use for Buckeye Transfer, which was obtained for the property by Denver-based Continental Energy, an oil service company, to convert part of the site to a truck-to-rail liquid transfer point.
Morning Journal/Patti Schaeffer
Buckeye Transfer’s new rail line is being constructed.
The application said it would transfer crude oil and condensate from active oil and gas wells to rail tankers staged on a rail spur inside the property.
Last month, after neighbor complaints, township trustees learned work at the site went beyond the scope of the conditional use approved by the board, and company representatives said they would redraft all their requirements into a new application.
Zoning Board Chairman Myron Wehr added the condition Tuesday night that a road from the facility to Esterly Road be installed to avoid truck traffic onto Cherry Fork Road.
Wehr also noted resident objections regarding increased truck traffic noise and lighting saying he had serious concerns, but the $14 million that will be spent building up the property and the 100 additional jobs persuaded the board to approve the additional uses.
About 20 people attended Tuesday's meeting.
The area is zoned I-1 Industrial - Light and the specified parcels are located in the vicinity of Esterly, Wisler and Cherry Fork roads.
Lisa Wallace, general counsel for Buckeye Transfer, had told the board that additional uses might be needed for the land which serves the shale boom.
On Tuesday, she called the 95-acre site an industrial park adding the uses will include a frack water recycling facility and a "potential" pipe yard for storage along with the transfer point.
It will also off and onload sand, aggregate and materials to build well sites, something Wallace said the original Kaiser plant was built for.
Rick Young of Continental Water Systems explained the frack water recycling facility will occupy "a small part of the site" and will filter frack water and neutralize the chemicals so the water can be used again.
The filtered materials will be transported to a landfill 60 miles away, Young said.
When operational, the process will off and onload 50 to 60 trucks a day. The facility has holding tanks, and the entire site is paved.
The pipe yard will hold all sizes of pipe and the truck-to-rail transfer point will no longer be static, but can be relocated to different railroad sections.
The board listened to a number of concerns including a letter from Ted Ossoff, owner of Valley Golf Club, read by his wife, Maryann.
The golf club is adjacent to the property, and Ossoff said that he didn't want to stand in the way of a responsible projects, but, "because it appears that these operations will have a significant impact on our property and our neighborhood ... we believe that complete transparency is in order."
He was concerned that the conditional use would change the character of the neighborhood and potentially affect the health and safety of people living and working in the area.
He was also concerned about the danger, as another resident was, and the ambiance of the neighborhood.
Ossoff's letter said the conditional use "would even permit flammable and explosive hazards to be collected and temporarily positioned very near residential structures."
Plus, he pointed out, "equally important, golfers expect a certain aesthetic level, both on the golf course and surrounding areas while they play.
"We see nothing in the application that indicates that any measure will be taken to protect this important feature of our surroundings."
He called for Buckeye Transfer to provide all the information necessary and required by law for the board to make an informed decision and "we suggest that the Board request that information be provided before making a decision on the application."
Maryann Ossoff read the letter later in the meeting after a number of the transparency issues had been addressed by Wallace and Jerry Stoneburner, the property owner.
Wallace said she was unable to be specific about the plans citing the organic nature of the shale business.
She said the additional use "allows us to use that as a full-service truck and transfer facility at the best and highest use of what we think will occur ... we found that if you're not ready when they are, they move on and we want to be ready."
She added, "It's not that we don't want to be (more specific) or are trying to hide anything."
Wallace explained that the additional truck traffic is part of the price.
"I respect all your concerns regarding truck traffic ... you will be able to access (the roads) to the extent we can screen, we will, but it's a 24/7 industrial park that operates all the time to service this industry."
Randy Hart, president of the Columbiana County Chamber of Commerce, which backs the development, said Fairfield Township is "a Mecca of opportunity ..." and was excited about the development. He called it an "optimal project."
Board member Cec Jones, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, abstained from voting.