City leaders say expansion, odors should be treated as separate issues
Delaware City Council approved an iron foundry's expansion last week while promising to look into solutions for what some locals call "the Delaware stench."
Council voted unanimously at its meeting Monday, July 14, to OK the final development plan for Liberty Casting's expansion on about 17 acres at 620 Liberty Road.
David Efland, planning and community development director for the city, said council should consider the expansion request without focusing on multiple resident complaints about odor issues at the existing facility.
"(They're) two different sites and really two different operations," he said.
The expansion, to be located in the former Hydro Conduit Corp. building just south of Liberty Casting's current facility, is expected to bring 52 jobs to the city. Company officials said the expansion will focus on higher-volume production while using a more environmentally friendly process than the one used at the existing site.
Efland said he contacted two communities with facilities that use a "green sand molding process," which Liberty Casting plans to use at the proposed expansion. He said neither reported odor problems associated with the process.
Efland said the older casting process used at the existing facility was approved by the city years ago.
He said council could consider restrictions at the existing site if it went back through the zoning process.
Councilwoman Lisa Keller asked City Attorney Darren Shulman if the city could legally impose requirements on the existing facility as part of the approval process for the proposed expansion.
Shulman said the zoning of the planned facility and complaints about the existing foundry were separate issues and should be treated as such.
He said, however, that the city possibly could charge the company with a nuisance violation under a state law that prohibits properties or businesses from producing "offensive smells." Shulman said previous nuisance enforcement in the city had focused on vacant properties.
Franklin Street resident Marilyn Nims said she and her family, who have lived in the city for 30 years, have noticed a malodor emanating intermittently from the Liberty Casting plant. Nims said the "Delaware stench," which she described as "a chemical or evaporated molten-metal smell," was especially frequent last spring.
"After being awakened on two separate occasions by the intensity of the odor coming in through our west windows, we have learned that we must keep those windows closed at night just in case," she said.
Keller said she sympathized with residents who were affected by the odor.
"I drove by the plant the other day and couldn't believe how strong it was," she said.
Keller said, at the very least, affected residents should have the opportunity to meet with city and company officials to discuss the problem.
City Manager Tom Homan said he could facilitate a meeting between those groups and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials, whom he said should be involved in the process.
Officials at Liberty Casting said they would be willing to participate in the meeting. Previously, company officials stated they have been unable to find a workable or economically feasible way to continue operations at the existing foundry while eliminating the odor.