Zoning dilemma in Xenia Twp.

About 50 people gathered Saturday in a meeting room at Central State University for a public hearing on Xenia Twp.’s proposed rezoning of the land owned by CEMEX, a global cement manufacturer, from agricutural to mineral extraction and storage.

Most expressed opposition to rezoning, previously rejected in 2011.

“Help us keep fighting. This is our home, this is our family,” resident Robbin Malone said.

Others acknowledged township rezoning could be preferable to leaving the land — three parcels totaling 289 acres on Hyde and Enon roads and Ohio 235 — zoned for farming. This is expected to result in CEMEX annexing into Fairborn.

Fairborn and CEMEX negotiated a preannexation agreement after Xenia Twp. rejected the rezoning in 2011.

“The discussions going on within Xenia Twp. are not affecting our timeline or our progress going forward with the city of Fairborn,” Sara Engdahl, the CEMEX communications director, said during a recent interview. “The process with the city of Fairborn is still ongoing.”

CEMEX was not represented Saturday at the meeting.

Township officials summed up the issue before reading letters submitted for consideration, one encouraging the township to permit CEMEX to mine the property.

The township rezoning would offer property owners additional protection, according to officials. Township zoning laws require quarrying or blasting to be located at least 500 feet from a residential district. Fairborn allows some types of mineral extraction no closer than 75 feet from a residential district.

Annexation would also offer the city access to other township land, officials said.

Administrator Alan Stock said stopping the annexation would be “very difficult” under current law. Long-range county plans recognize the land’s potential for mineral extraction and storage, Stock said.

Several residents said CEMEX should guarantee free, safe drinking water to residents who lose their wells.

West Enon Road resident Jim Turner accused the company of balking at compensating affected residents. “They promise they will help you. I don’t see a lot of it going on.”

Before rezoning, the township needs to ensure CEMEX won’t go ahead with the annexation, Turner added, while emphasizing he still opposed the rezoning.

Resident Steve Gray said studies discussed during the previous debate demonstrated how mining reduces property values.

Residents Marybeth and Jan Smolinski accused CEMEX of telling them the land would only be used as a buffer from residential areas.

Once the limestone is extracted, CEMEX is likely to donate the remaining quarry as a park, Jan Smolinski said.

Al Ganley said he was selling his property, but offered to help form a group to fight CEMEX’s plan.

“I definitely don’t want Fairborn to control my fate,” he said.

Yellow Springs resident Richard Stockton said there was no shortage of cement, while farmland was disappearing. “The future here is not in cement. The future is in sustainable goods, i.e. agriculture.”

The zoning board scheduled a decision at its next meeting, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the township fire station. The trustees will have the final say.

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