Final approval granted to build medical complex on Howland wetlands

Local News

For months, the Cafaro Company has fought to build on the 16 acres, while environmentalists have fought to protect them

HOWLAND TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – The Army Corps of Engineers has given its approval to the Cafaro Company to use wetlands in Howland Township for a new Mercy Health hospital.

The 16 acres of wetlands along the banks of Mosquito Creek have been debated over for the past several months. The Cafaro Company wanted to build on it and environmentalists wanted to protect it.

But the Cafaro Company’s project, Enterprise Park, has just gotten the final permit needed to build the medical complex.

A 108-page document outlines the Corps’ reasons for granting the permit.

In analyzing the effects eliminating the wetlands will have, the Corps determined there will only be minor, short-term effects but nothing major.

MORE – Project description and Army Corps’ special conditions

It also looked at 21 different public interest factors, none of which were determined to be detrimental.

The Corps did mention a lack of information on exactly what Mercy Health has planned. It said it wants documentation concerning those plans before the wetlands can be used.

A group of concerned citizens who have tried to stop the destruction of the wetlands issued a statement:

“After seeking legal counsel interpretation, we understand that the 404 permit recently issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers for the Enterprise Park Project in Howland Township is approved only for a new hospital building at this time. After talking with the Army Corps, they strongly indicate that they have assurances on file that Mercy Health does plan to build a new hospital at Enterprise Park, regardless of the strong public opposition. The remainder of the buildings proposed in the application will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis after the hospital is built. Therefore, we believe that if no hospital ends up being built there, no further development will occur.

The coalition represented at the educational meeting feels that if the entire community, including the permitting agencies and politicians who support this development, had been able to hear the presentations of scientists, wetland experts and community leaders at the public educational meeting held last week regarding the huge consequences of Enterprise Park, the proposal would never go forward. With no net increase in hospital jobs foreseeable, continuing population declines, the negative impacts to our air, water, migratory birds, wildlife, flooding issues and social justice concerns, going forward with this proposal is just unacceptable.

Therefore, depending on the final outcome and clarification on Mercy Health’s plans, the coalition of concerned citizens of the Mahoning Valley may consider filing a complaint in federal court against the US Army Corps of Engineers under the Administrative Procedures Act stating their issuance of the 404 permit was arbitrary, capricious and not in accordance with the law.”

Mercy Health also issued a statement Friday in response:

“As the Hospital has previously publicly stated, Mercy Health has a process that continuously reviews potential sites to further expand services that will best meet the changing needs of those we serve. This is a process that spans months, if not years, between evaluation, development, approval and implementation. The process has yet to move past the evaluation phase.”

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