Residents fight code for recycling facility

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

The Southwest Area Commissioners had two unpopular options before them at the April meeting.

One was to deny a zoning request from Roof to Road and have no input as the company tries to gain compliance with the city code. The other option was to approve the zoning request and upset residents who have fought against the shingle recycling company since it came to the area five years ago.

Commissioners admitted they were stuck between a rock and a hard place.

“Nobody likes this,” said commission chair Stefanie Coe.

She said everyone who lives in the area wants to see improvements along the Frank Road corridor. She said she shares in the frustration residents have that another salvage operation is in business along this densely traveled road, but there is little the commission can do when it comes to who can conduct business on Frank Road.

Coe said the only thing the commission can do is approve or reject zoning requests and make recommendations to the Columbus City Council when the issue comes before them.

Roof to Road operates a recycling facility at 894 Frank Road, where it turns shingles into asphalt.

Some residents say the pile of shingles are en eye sore and they are concerned about health risks.

In the case of the Roof to Road request, Coe said, “Either we can vote no and the shingle pile stays or we can compromise and the shingle pile stays, but there will be more oversight by the city staff.”

After much discussion, the commission voted 5-1 to approve the variance and the special permit that Roof to Road requested. Under the variance, the company would be allowed to operate with the current zoning on its 4.5 acres of leased land. The special permit would allow the company to continue running the salvage operation. The company did not ask to change the zoning code.

The approval did come with conditions, however. Under the resolution, it states that the council variance and the special permit is limited to 10 years. Roof to Road would only be able to get an extension if they receive a permit from the city each year, comply fully with all of the requirements in the permit and continue to have the shingles tested by an independent lab for asbestos. The company would be required to share those asbestos results with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the city of Columbus.

The resolution also requires Roof to Road to remove and contain trash on the property, have designated parking areas for employees and customers, and not to have shingle piles in excess of 30 feet.

David Perry, an attorney representing Roof to Road, said the company would comply with the terms in the resolution. Steve Johnson, the owner of the company, said Roof to Road is constantly testing their shingles for asbestos and they are in compliance with the EPA.

The residents at the meeting, most of whom have stated they want to see Roof to Road relocate, were not happy with the commission’s decision to approve the request.

“We didn’t buy our homes and expect to see this around here,” said Melanie Coplan, who lives near the land on which Roof to Road operates. “What you’re doing by this is making us eat it.”

Don Parsons said he was disappointed with the commission.

“I disagree with them when they say the variance and permit approval will give them some control over how Roof to Road operates,” he said.

Parsons said that while the approval was a setback, the residents would continue to fight.

“We’ll go to court every time Roof to Road has to make an appearance (code enforcement cited the company in 2009 and the case is still making its way through the court system) and we’ll lobby the city council to reject the variance and special permit application,” he said.

“This is not over at all,” said Parsons.

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