Columbiana residents air smoke concern

COLUMBIANA – Neighbors of the Floral Warehouse appeared before Columbiana City Council this week to voice their concerns over the business burning debris in the early mornings and late evenings.

Van Mills, an elderly Springfield Road resident speaking before council with the assistance of a portable oxygen tank, complained about the smoke, which he said drifts toward the units at the front of the Meadows Condominiums and a neighboring medical center. Mills said his new car already smells of the odor and when he opens his garage, the smell drifts into his home.

He suggested it may be old flowers, which were kept wet and cool, but the business was unable to sell. Another neighbor, Larry Metzgar, suggested the items may be cardboard boxes, but it is definitely not coal or wood.

Councilman Bryan Blakeman confirmed he learned of the burning issue last summer. He himself had been driving through the area and saw a “yellow fog,” reportedly thick and seeping to the pavilion at the medical center. Blakeman said he had spoken to then-city manager Keith Chamberlain, who in turn had gone over to talk to the owners of the business. The issue had stopped for a while, but has reportedly begun again.

Mills suggested the city’s burning ordinances should handle it or he could call in the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. From a similar issue in Goshen Township, Mills said he learned the EPA restricts burning within 1,000 feet of a home.

In a letter, Janet Metzgar, who could not attend Tuesday’s meeting, suggested the issue is like living next to a steel mill. She said they lived there for 13 years, but there was no problem until about five years ago. At one point she said someone reported the shop was on fire and the fire department was summoned.

Police Chief Tim Gladys said his department does handle calls for open burning complaints, but there is nothing for police to enforce if the smoke is coming from an incinerator, a coal furnace or a wood furnace.

Mayor David Spatholt said the city will look at the issue and call the Metzgars and Mills to tell them what if anything can be done.