RIMER — While news of a company’s expansion is often welcomed as a sign of economic development, some residents of Rimer, a small community east of Fort Jennings in southern Putnam County, worry that expansion by the National Lime and Stone Co. in the area could produce potentially devastating results.
The company has begun expanding its quarry, located on the northeast side of state Route 189, running through Rimer. With the Ottawa River running on the other side of the highway, resident John Garberson is concerned that this expansion, complete with a privacy wall of dirt along the edge of the highway, is cutting into the floodplain.
“The Putnam County GIS shows the floodplain for the Ottawa River,” he said. “They are digging right into it.”
With the quarry’s expansion, Garberson notes that this will narrow that section of floodplain, creating a bottleneck effect.
“What happens when the water’s velocity increases?” he said. “You tighten that floodplain up and the water will speed up.”
“The old train tracks that go through create a barrier that the water can’t come over,” Sugar Creek Township trustee Jim Mull said. “So the water will dump back toward the houses.”
Garberson’s house is situated between state Route 189 and the river, just across from National Lime and Stone’s development.
“My mother’s house is right on the corner, so we’re right in the cross hairs,” he said.
In a meeting with the Sugar Creek Township Trustees Friday, Garberson listed various officials he has already contacted.
“I’ve talked with Greg Luersman of the Putnam County Planning Commission and Rick Hassinger from the Ohio EPA,” he said. “I also talked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who directed me to Luersman. I actually went as far as Bob Latta’s office. “
Not only does this affect the floodplain, but this expansion will bring the blasts from the quarry very close to Rimer residences, where even now, blasts can rattle houses.
“What will happen to the houses along the road when they start blasting there?” Mull said.
“I live two miles away, and I can feel it when they blast,” trustee David Young said.
Being that close to a quarry has already had a negative impact on property values in the area, a problem that would only be exacerbated by the expansion.
“When appraisals are done, the appraisers go out three miles for comparisons,” Mull said. “If a comparable house to mine by square footage happens to be John’s house here, my property value is going down.”
Garberson mentioned that this expansion is, from what he has been able to gather, a violation of both state and federal law, but National Lime and Stone has seemingly ignored that fact, so far.
“When I contacted the gentleman at the EPA, he had emailed the company but had not received a reply,” he said. “I have actually not notified them myself. A neighbor of ours did and she got blown off.”
Garberson plans to meet with the Putnam County commissioners Tuesday as well as make contact with the offices for both U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.
“I want to bring attention to this now, so that if the flooding here does get destructive and the media has to cover it, we can say that people were told about this back then,” he said. “What would happen if that flooding destroyed homes or possibly kill people?”
A representative from National Lime and Stone Co. could not be reached for comment, being out of the office until the end of next week.