Proposed barge facility draws complaints

Published 2:28 pm Friday, September 17, 2010

A week after an Ashland, Ky., businessman announced plans for a barge facility in the western end of the county, Lawrence County Commissioners heard objections that neighbors don’t want it in their back yard.

Bob Fowler of BF Iron told commissioners last week that he wanted to put in a barge repair and scrap facility on the banks of the Ohio River near Haverhill off County Road 1A that could bring in at least 50 jobs.

At the weekly Thursday meeting, James Turner of County Road 1A presented the commissioners with a petition bearing signatures of 39 who are opposed to the location of the plant.

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“No one wants it,” Turner said. “We’re afraid it will turn into a scrap yard. Right now you may not be able to see the facility, come fall and the leaves come down, it will be seen.”

Residents were also concerned about possible noise, Turner said.

“If it gets bigger, who’s to say how many trucks would be going in,” Turner asked.

He also said few residents were notified by the Corps about the proposed facility.

Fowler told The Tribune that it is not his intention to build a scrap yard.

“We want to pull barges out of the water and repair them,” he said. “Some barges, you can’t repair them. We will scrap them right there and send them to a steel mill.”

Fowler wants to build on about 50 acres he owns from County Road 1A to the river. The front 18 acres will not house the facility, and might later be sold as lots for houses.

The plant would go on 15 acres on the river bank that is separated by the front acreage by 10 acres of a ravine, he said.

“There are at least two or three tree lines in between,” he said. “Going so big. That is not our intention.”

The commissioners agreed to send a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers requesting a public hearing and notification of more residents, including public officials.

“The commissioners don’t have the final say,” Commissioner Jason Stephens said. “To me it sounds like not enough people were aware of it.”

In other business the commissioners:

• Approve a letter of support for the Ironton Port Authority to apply for an EPA grant to clean up the site where the former group home and county garage on Ninth Street stood.

• Accepted the weekly dog warden report where 32 dogs were destroyed, one dog sold and one animal redeemed. Year to date deposits are dog registrations of $125,342; dog kennel fees of $8,028; and cat housing fees of $2,451. There are 37 dogs in custody.

• Referred to the county auditor the Union Rome Sewer Delinquent list in the amount of $276,262.