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When a Portage County judge ruled that Shelly Co. had a right to mine gravel at Sahbra Farms in Streetsboro, City Councilman Jeff Allen proposed that the city stop fighting what he felt was a losing battle.
"The city did everything it could do," he said, adding that the city could be liable for damages if it loses. "I just don't see why we should jeopardize the entire community when we get our tails handed to us."
Last year, the Streetsboro Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a request by Shelly Co. to mine the farm and the company appealed the ruling to Portage County Common Pleas Court, where Judge Becky Doherty ruled against the city in May. The ruling cleared the way for Shelly to mine 152 acres of the farm at the corner of S.R. 14 and Diagonal Road for 20 to 30 years.
Allen's proposal to withdraw the appeal to Doherty's decision was met with outcry from residents who want the city to keep fighting.
Ultimately, council agreed to continue the appeal, and the Northern Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals will be the next to rule on a conditional zoning permit application that would enable the project to go ahead.
Dr. Jennifer Maxwell, who lives near the farm, said she is pleased the city will appeal Doherty's ruling.
"A significant portion of the community around that area has made their voices heard, saying that they are not in favor of this." she said. "When you have a disagreement, you take it to the courts and follow it through until your recourse is through."
Councilwoman Julie Field, whose ward includes the horse farm, said many people have asked her to fight the proposed surface mining operation.
"I've had plenty of information to make this decision," she said. "There's no doubt in my mind we need to move forward with this."
Camilla Patterson, a Diagonal Road resident, said she's concerned about air pollution if Shelly is permitted to mine.
"It's a little problem right now, but it's going to be a huge problem," she said. "You, Mr. Allen, are trying stop this, and that's crap."
Resident Pearl Pullman, however, shared Allen's concern about potential liability if the city loses its appeal.
"I really don't understand how you get to withhold that information from the citizens," she said. "We're the ones to foot the bill I think the least you could do is let the rest of us know what it's going to cost us."
Streetsboro Law Director Paul Janis declined to discuss the city's potential liability.