By Whitney Vickers
FAIRBORN – Council members unanimously voted to rezone the CEMEX property from agricultural land to mining use after agreeing to wave the third reading during its latest council meeting Monday, following the public hearing.
Members said they felt the heaviness of their decision, and took the process seriously. However, explained after the vote that they felt their decision was best for the community as a whole.
“I’m going to say this right to the CEMEX folks: I’m going to hold your feet to the fire,” Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick said. “You have done a fantastic job for the City of Fairborn in the past, we expect you to continue that.”
They emphasized the amount of time they’ve spent working on the matter, and took information received from each party into account.
“Given everything we’ve heard, tonight and for months now, I’ve been working on this for roughly nine months, I can find no proof to the accusations made against this proposition,” Councilwoman Marilyn McCauley said. “For the bettermeant of our community as a whole, I feel like we’ve made the best decision possible tonight.”
She looked for proof on each side in regards to her decision.
“We’ve all spent a lot of time and effort in the process,” McCauley said. “We’ve listened, and listened and listened; we’ve read numerous articles and information given to us by certain groups of folks. Three times I’ve asked for proof of home damage, ectetera, and could never get that proof from those folks who had that concern.”
Councilman Tim Steininger felt that his decision did not come in a light manner.
“I listened to all the research I could, listened as a citizens, contemplated the impact to the city,” Steininger said. “There are no guarantees in life, there are no guarantees of any kind here. What we are saying is that this is the best decision I can make for the city at this time. Therefore, I voted the way that I did.”
Councilwoman Donna Wilson spoke with various individuals and asked questions throughout her decision-making process, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in regards to the reputation CEMEX carries. In the process, she said she realized how much land within the city used to be a quarry.
“I was highly surprised that the high school was a quarry, many residential areas were a quarry, the baseball and football field was a quarry and community park … I would never have known,” Wilson said.
Kirkpatrick emphasized how stressful of a decision it was, and said he lost sleep over the matter.
“I’ve met with private citizens, I’ve met with CEMEX; I’ve met with people who were against it, I’ve met with people who are for it, and I think you all realize this was not an easy answer for any of us,” Kirkpatrick said. “I’ve agonized and woken up at two o’clock in the morning, jotting notes and thinking of questions I would ask and concerns I would have. I hope everyone understands how difficult of a decision this was.”
He appreciated hearing from President Robert McClure of R.A. McClure Inc. (a company that offers explosive education and technical services) during the meeting, and felt concerned in regards to the blasting, and understood the worries of the residents.
“I know it can be done safely, and we’re going to hold CEMEX to the standard to make sure it remains safe,” he said. “We really want our citizens to let us know if there are any violations or questions.”
Kirkpatrick saw the silver lining in the matter being the communication that took place between citizens, the city and the company, and hopes to continue the dialogue in the future.
“I want to applaud everyone who came out tonight, whether they were for it or against it,” he said. “This is what makes our country great – we have the freedom and the ability to speak our mind. We may not always agree with each other, but we can walk out of here with our heads held up and we can work together for the future … We really need to have that dialogue, that communication so that we can be on good terms with each other. This was not an easy decision, and I want to thank everyone who came out.”