Columbiana councilman: ‘Man camp’ term meant to inflame residents

COLUMBIANA – A councilman believes the term “man camp” bandied about at the latest meetings was done to inflame residents to turn against council’s support of upgrading infrastructure for a new development.

Lowell Schloneger said at the Tuesday council meeting the word, originally said in their presence by father-and-son Bob and Rob Struharik, created a “flash mob” mentality.

“Please get away from the flash mob mentality. The people were worked into a frenzy,” he said.

He added the term “man camp” was never brought up during a presentation by Summer Barker and Jeff Stoy of Architectural Design Solutions regarding a planned development at the former Lake Front Golf Course property.

“That term was concocted by the three people that had worked on these meetings,” he said, referring to public meetings the Struhariks called and a special council meeting Bryan Blakeman called after hearing about the development, which is said to feature an 88-bed single story hotel geared toward workers in the oil and gas industry.

Blakeman said he attended the citizen meetings but no one on council did.

Schloneger said a man camp cannot be set up in the city because it is not listed in the city’s code as a permitted use.

Municipal Attorney Daniel Blasdell has said if something is not listed as permitted, it is prohibited.

“The coining of the term ‘man camp’ was done brilliantly to inflame you people. It was brilliant because it worked,” Schloneger said to the crowd that turned out yet again to speak to council about their concerns regarding the planned development and the tax increment financing (TIF) council supported to finance a new lift station there.

Council has not acted on the TIF but offered a show of support for one to finance the approximately $1.8 million needed to fund a new lift station and the required water and sewer lines at the golf course property, which is where the hotel would be constructed, and to surrounding areas, including west on state Route 14.

The station would eliminate the need for five existing city lift stations that are outdated and would service roughly 411 acres of property.

“We were not trying to get the community in an uproar, we were looking at our side of town,” Bob Struharik told Schloneger later.

Schloneger had also said he was disappointed a “group of people can be swayed into thinking” the city cannot properly handle a new development considering the many that have been constructed over the years.

Listing them off he said, “Can you pick out one of them that hasn’t been done right because of the planning commission?”

Many residents, including those who had spoken at the special meeting, re-emphasized their stance on the matter that more “protection” is needed with regards to a single story hotel and its potential effect on the city’s property values, appearance and even safety.

Schloneger said he believes two of those who spoke were sincere, and they were Dani Clancy and Jessica Boon. He then cautioned the crowd not to believe everything they read on Facebook and other social sites when it comes to city matters.

“It seems that the new part of town that didn’t grow up here have a little less faith in us,” he said.

kschwendeman@mojonews.com