By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor
The Community Response Solidarity Network (CSRN) and South Toledo business owners have joined forces in an attempt to stop Kott Enterprises’ Clean Wood Recycling from turning a 50-acre lot bordered by Byrne Road, Marine Drive, Airport Highway, Angola Road and Anton Street into a huge compost pile.
The proposal before Toledo City Council to re-zone the area is meeting strong objections from a number of concerned Toledoans and many of them gathered on Monday, March 29 in the adjoining Conrad’s Soft Cloth Car Wash to hold a press conference and display their chagrin at what might be coming to the neighborhood.
“This is going to be a mess – this doesn’t belong here,” said Charlene Conrad, owner of the car wash. “I hope we can make a difference. If it comes, I will be the first to leave.” Conrad’s had been in operation at the 3540 Airport Highway location since 1968 when it was opened by Charlene Conrad’s father-in-law.
Charlene Conrad has collected in excess of 1,300 signatures from residents and business owners in the community objecting to the rezoning plan.
“This is industrial – not light industrial,” said Washington Muhammad of CSRN as he opened the press conference on Monday morning. “City Council is pushing this through and our whole community is at risk. Property values are going to plummet. Schools and students near here are going to be in jeopardy.”
Muhammad’s warnings were echoed by a number of speakers to follow. Bill Hoag, an organizer of the opposition along with CSRN, is a Springfield Township resident who spoke of his personal difficulties over the years with Kott Enterprises and how his property value has been impacted. He also opened the discussion about health issues that will be compounded by the giant compost.
“City Council members have ignored health concerns and how this will impact low-income housing around here. Property values will start going down and business owners will start moving out,” said Hoag.
Hoag presented a list of two dozen companies that are located within 500 feet of the proposed compost property who are asking City Council to consider their vote carefully. Several of the business owners spoke.
The bioaerosol, sulphur compounds and ammonia emissions from such a compost, according to Hoag, cause adverse health problems such as contagious diseases, acute toxic effects, allergies, cancer, late term births, dermatitis and respiratory problems.
According to a report by ResearchGate, the environmental impact of large-scale composting practices include the release of various gases such as NH3, CH$ and N2O which can negatively impact air quality
“My tenants want to move,” said Michael Schrickel, owner of Chop Shop Machines. “The smell will travel up to three miles. It’s not a good thing for this area and everyone will suffer. It’s not a good idea.”
Along with Hoag and the CSRN, former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner also has taken on the fight to stop the compost.
“This is disrespect and it’s been going on for too long,” said Finkbeiner as he recalled the annexing of the old Adams Township by the City of Toledo a number of years ago, to the detriment of the residents of the township. “This is an insensitivity to men and women of color that would not be acceptable in a White neighborhood.”
As for the Kott brothers, Finkbeiner had no kind words to say about their way of operating. “I dealt with them as a mayor – it was a constant struggle – they were always wanting to do what was inappropriate.”
According to its website, Clean Wood Recycling is a mulch, compost and top-soil producing facility, with three locations throughout the Toledo area. The company accepts wood and tree waste from landscaping companies, city waste departments and residents in the community, that is then recycled into mulch products.
Toledo City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee considered an application from Michael Kott, president of Clean Wood Recycling, Inc., two weeks ago to rezone about 50 acres to limited industrial so the business can be relocated from its location on Bancroft Street. Kott told the Committee that the Bancroft location is now valuable for commercial development.
Council is scheduled to hold a vote on the issue on Tuesday, March 30.
Attempts to reach Clean Wood Recycling were unavailing.