Piqua City Commissioners approve annexation of land

PIQUA – The Piqua City Commissioners adopted a resolution involving 662-plus acres of land being annexed into the city of Piqua, rezoned, and allowing developers, including Piqua Materials, to industrialize the land, which involves a stone quarry being added.

Numerous citizens, including several business owners, came to the meeting to express their concerns and opinions over the addition of a stone quarry to that area.

Piqua resident Michael Sherry, of Fox Drive, expressed concerns about what would happen following the annexation and rezoning.

“It’s my understanding that if you guys [the commissioners] annex the property and agree to zone it to I2, … that the mine will be a shoe-in and the special use permit will be in effect,” said Sherry.

The city of Piqua’s Economic and Development Director Chris Schmiesing provided the steps that would have to occur if the annexation and rezoning resolutions passed. According to Schmiesing, the developers would then have to submit a final plat to the city of Piqua’s planning commission which, if approved, would be presented to the commissioners for final approval.

Several residents had concerns involving the vibration radius and air pollution, including Scott Reardon, of Hopewood Drive, who owns Atlantis Sportswear on Fox Drive. The buildings are within a mile of the proposed site, according to Reardon.

“My business is sensitive. The machines have to be precisely calibrated,” said Reardon. “We have compliance audits every year that involve quality, human rights for employees, health and safety, the air that they’re breathing inside the plant, the chemicals we use, all have to be in compliance.”

Other residents had concerns about the safety of their home structures if in the vibration radius.

Brandon Virgallito, of Marwood Avenue, asked the commissioners for the “metrics” associated with air pollution and the vibration radius.

“What are the parts per million that silica dust is allowed in the air before it becomes harmful to somebody?” said Virgallito. “We need data to make informed decisions. I would say that if I have an opinion is that this be tabled until we have data to make an informed decision.”

The annexation of the land passed with a 3-1 vote; Commissioner Jim Vetter voted against the annexation.

“From at least my perspective with the annexation, I-75 is one of the last developed corridors in the state of Ohio and for the city of Piqua to annex that in and then be able to contribute to our city versus our county, I think that’s worth while to take a look at it,” said Commissioner Chris Grissom.

Then, later in the meeting, the commissioners saw a resolution for the zoning of the annexed land.

Residents again spoke against the issue.

One discussion point involved the communication from the city involving the previous planning commission meetings. Mail communication is sent out to businesses and residents within 200-feet of the proposed site, which according to Schmiesing, is the policy in place by the Piqua Code of Ordinances.

Rocky Bowermaster, of Drake Road, commented, “The quarry as a mile radius of impact. I live just inside a half mile from the site. I didn’t get the notice so I didn’t get to voice my opinion at the meeting last week.”

Following this, Sherry said, “Code is one thing and ethics is another thing.”

Then, a representative with Woodard Development, Brad Doudican, spoke next to provide a few “counter-points.”

“Our interest is in the industrial property adjacent (to the site),” said Doudican.

Doudican discussed the benefits of the site location. One benefit is the access to Interstate 75 with large continuous acreage.

Another benefit is the improvements that the city of Piqua has already completed, including their water plant.

“As a developer, many of questions have been satisfied to a strong extent. I think that information has been made available to the public,” said Doudican.

Dennis Garrison, chief executive director of Piqua Materials, then spoke to “clarify some points.” He said the current mine quarry went through the special use permit process when it was first bought.

“The thing that I would point out to the commission is that we’ve received zero complaints from our neighbors in the Wyndham Industrial Park. All of the issues that have been brought up tonight can be mitigated,” said Garrison.

Ultimately, the commissioners voted 3-1 to table the resolution involving the zoning, with Mayor Cindy Pearson voting against tabling it.

Following this vote, the next resolution was also voted to be tabled in a 3-1 vote with Pearson voting against tabling it. The next resolution involved authorizing the city manager to execute an economic development agreement for the land with Piqua Materials, Hohman Farms, Schaurer, and J3 Development Annexation.