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Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Refuse hauler dumps recycling center idea

By Shelley Grieshop
The owner of a local refuse company says he'll look elsewhere to build a recycling facility after failing to get a warm and fuzzy feeling for his business venture from Mercer County officials.
Three weeks ago, Greg Gargis, the owner of Dumpsterman Container Services in Celina, met with county commissioners to inquire about purchasing at least two vacant, county-owned lots in the Franklin Industrial Park near Lakefield Airport in Montezuma. At the conclusion of that meeting, commissioners asked him to submit a detailed plan of the proposed recycling operation for construction and demolition waste.
Commissioners vowed to investigate the idea further with airport officials who may have concerns with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
On Tuesday, Gargis again met with commissioners, who appeared even more skeptical about the idea. Commissioner Jerry Laffin told Gargis that members of the airport authority board, as well as nearby property owners, had voiced concern about the proposal. They feared debris from the facility would blow onto their land and unsightly piles of demolition materials would clutter the landscape, Laffin explained.
Gargis, who stated he was eager to get his plan in motion, assured commissioners the recycling material would be confined in a building for sorting. He admitted, however, that piles of concrete and wood, as well as empty dumpsters would be left outside.
Laffin also told Gargis he feared the facility could be sold in the future to someone who might not be as diligent about the property's upkeep. Gargis said that scenario could happen to any business in the industrial park.
"We want good neighbors out there," Laffin reiterated.
At one point, Gargis raised his voice when told that several of the lots he desired were reserved for lease by the airport, which also falls under county ownership.
"I've never had such a hard time spending money," Gargis said.
Gargis accused the commissioners of allowing the airport authority board to dictate who buys the industrial park lots.
"I think the airport authority has a lock on you guys," he said, adding, "I'm not going to let the airport run me off."
The commissioners explained to Gargis the lots in the industrial park must be sold by sealed bids or auction, or through the county's Community Improvement Corporation, which acts as an agent for the county. The commissioners cannot directly sell the lots to anyone, Laffin said.
Each of the vacant lots spans approximately 21/2 acres and is priced about $10,000 per acre. Currently, there are seven lots available.
Bruns instructed Gargis to forgo an expensive architectural drawing and submit to the board a simple sketch of the proposed recycling operation for review.
However, on Wednesday morning Gargis told The Daily Standard he was no longer seeking the county land.
"I've pulled out," he said, adding the lack of cooperation he received "sacrificed" at least six new jobs for the area.
Gargis said he was disappointed at the reaction from the board of commissioners and airport authority board member Steve Klosterman. Now he will begin looking for land in Auglaize, Darke or Van Wert counties, he said.
The recycling facility Gargis intended to build would have promoted a green environment by recycling metal products and turning wood products into mulch for re-sale, instead of hauling the refuse to landfills, he said.
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