LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Lordstown Energy Center has been using natural gas to generate electricity for five years now. Right next door, the land has been cleared for a second plant, and the company that owns them both wants part of the land to be rezoned from residential to industrial.
The decision is up to Lordstown Village Council, which has yet to decide. But at a public meeting Monday evening, people weren’t so much concerned about the zone change as they were about issues at the plant that is operating.
Along state Route 45 in Lordstown, right next to the Lordstown Energy Center, land has been cleared for a second power plant. But among the pipes and heavy equipment, part of the land is zoned as residential. Clean Energy Future, which owns the plant and is building the new one, wants it to be changed to industrial.
“I do not have a problem personally with rezoning this one area,” said Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill.
Hill was the only speaker who supported the zone change, which is for 34.7 acres, that fronts Route 45, adjacent to where the second plant is being built.
“We are right behind this,” said Lordstown resident Mark McGrail.
McGrail did not speak against the zone change but against the way the current plant is operating.
“The plant that’s operating is a noise nuisance. The switching station they installed is a light nuisance,” McGrail said.
McGrail asked village council to delay the rezoning until the nuisance issues are addressed.
“There are nights that it howls away,” said Larry Tura, who lives southeast of the plant.
Tura wants Clean Energy Future to be held accountable.
“You guys need to hold them to 100% of the zoning laws that are on the books today, and that’s barriers and sound and whatever else it takes to make them stay in compliance,” Tura said.
Lordstown resident Danielle Watson wondered why this was coming up now.
“Why was this not rezoned previously to the groundbreaking ceremony? Because usually, everything’s done before there’s an actual groundbreaking ceremony,” Watson said.
Hill said it was a public hearing and council was under no obligation to answer questions. Representatives of Clean Energy Future were in attendance but did not speak.
At its regular meeting following the public hearing, Lordstown Village Council moved the zone change through a first reading. It’ll likely make it through three readings before a vote is taken.