SOUTH CONNELLSVILLE — For several months, residents who live within whiffing distance of the Superior Fine Grind, LLC plant on Baldridge Avenue have complained about a strong odor from the plant that they say makes being outside unbearable.
In response to the complaints, the borough council directed solicitor Michael Hammond, to begin communication with the plant’s owner, along with the state Department of Environmental Protection. However, progress using that strategy has been slow moving, officials said.
Attorney Samuel Dalfonso, siting in for Hammond at council’s regular meeting this week, said Hammond is still working with the DEP. However, he said, it is within council’s authority to cite Superior Fine Grind every day under nuisance ordinances. Although that wasn’t being done, Councilman George Jay said beginning immediately, the borough’s code enforcement officer is directed to do so based on complaints received.
Jay encouraged residents to report and complain about the smell.
Mark VanBibber spoke about the issue during public comment. He said the plant is only open a half day on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. When the plant is closed and the odor isn’t being expelled, it is a completely different atmosphere.
“It’s like paradise,” VanBibber said.
He said that proves that the plant has control of when and how often they vent the odor. In addition, VanBibber had photographs of the hillside near the shaft where the odor comes out showing all of the foliage is either gone and singed.
Dalfonso urged VanBibber to report all he’s seen to the DEP and encouraged all residents in that area to call the nearest DEP’s field office, which is located in Coal Center.
In addition, Dalfonso said council could entertain filing a lawsuit against the company with the borough as the plaintiff.
VanBibber said his home doesn’t have central air conditioning, so they rely on fans to cool the house in the summer. He said his wife has woken up in the middle of night choking from the odor. Council members all agreed that he shouldn’t have the live that way.
VanBibber said he voiced his complaints to an employee working at the plant. VanBibber said the man told him he could move if he didn’t like the smell.
A call to the plant to speak to the owner has not been returned.
In other business, a contractor in a dispute with council over work done in the borough boiled over in public comment. Dan Sheraw, owner of Sheraw Construction, brought documentation for council and said his visit was a “courtesy” before he takes it to the next level.
Sheraw Construction is a general contracting firm that did roofing work for the borough.
Dalfonso told Sheraw that he has instructed council not to respond to him because it is involving pending litigation.
Sheraw claims that the borough’s solicitor hasn’t been in timely contact with his attorney and gave council a deadline of 10 days to respond to a revised invoice. Sheraw did not offer additional information about his dispute with officials and left after public comment.
In regular business, council unanimously approved the following items:
n Accepted the resignation of patrolman Cory Schwetz from the police department
n Approved a resolution regulating access to camera footage from the borough’s new security cameras. The footage is protected by a username and password which is accessible to the police chief and the officer in charge and is only to be accessed when absolutely necessary.