WILMINGTON — A neighbor of the newly enlarged World Equestrian Center on State Route 730 told commissioners he has a variety of concerns about the facilities and their impact.
John David Roberts of Worthington Road described the recent development at the equestrian center as “over-built, under-thought.”
The World Equestrian Center is promoted as a major indoor and outdoor equestrian sports venue. It is located on the same State Route 730 location as Roberts Arena, which is part of it.
Also attending the Monday morning commissioners meeting were Clinton County Building & Zoning official Walt Daniel and Clinton County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Taylor Stuckert.
Some of Roberts’ concerns with the center are the amount of traffic, traffic hazards resulting from the placement of a driveway in the vicinity of a hill, people operating golf carts and ATVs to cross SR 730 to a store, a lack of traffic turn lanes, lack of fire lanes, stormwater run-off from paved parking lots, and Mexican and/or Guatemalan employees.
Roberts also said there is a lack of firewalls and fire sprinklers.
Daniel said that when the buildings were built, there were building permits issued and inspections done, and the buildings had passed inspection through an engineering firm and county inspectors also looked at them.
Last spring, Roby and Jennifer Roberts, Ralph L. and Mary Roberts, R.L.R. Investments (doing business as World Equestrian Center), and LT Land Development filed a lawsuit against John David Roberts (no relation) and his father John E. Roberts, also of Worthington Road.
The legal action alleges John D. Roberts in April 2016 told the Roberts Family he planned to build a hog facility “on the parcel that directly abuts the residential home of plaintiffs Roby and Jennifer Roberts, and as near to that home as possible. Defendant John D. Roberts advised that this location was selected precisely because the wind will blow any odors arising from the hog-confinement and feeding operations toward the residential home.”
A paper filed in response with the court by John D. Roberts’ attorney states “Ohio has powerful built-in protections for farmers from nuisance actions.” The same paper states Ohio law provides a complete defense for agricultural uses of real estate registered as Agricultural Districts [as it reportedly is] against nuisance actions, “requiring only that the activities are in accord with generally accepted farming practices.”
In the introduction to that same court-filed paperwork, the defense attorney wrote: “Disregarding for the moment the palpable irony of a 600-stall horse farm objecting to ‘feces, urine, and other waste causing extremely unpleasant odors, attraction of insects and disease vectors’ from a proposed hog farm ….”
The Roberts Family’s suit stated Wilson Creek is within less than 150 feet of the proposed hog facility.
On Monday in the commissioners office, Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed said the Board of County Commissioners is not a legal arm of the county, and Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley likewise said the Board of Commissioners is not an enforcement agency per se.
Haley suggested, and all the commissioners agreed, that John D. Roberts could list the issues and concerns and then give the list to the commissioners office which, in turn, will provide the items on the list to the appropriate department that has oversight on the particular matter.
Steed also said at one point that the expanded equestrian center is “obviously a unique and dynamic situation that’s going on out there,” adding the venue has many components to it, many positive and some that may be negative.
In another appointment Monday, representatives of HealthFirst for Clinton County gave a report on this “independent, all-volunteer, board-driven community foundation” with a current balance of nearly $3.8 million, according to HealthFirst Board Chairperson Pat King.
Since 2010, it has disbursed more than $640,000 to the community, while at the same time growing its funds by more than $500,000, King said.
HealthFirst Board Treasurer Scott Holmer mentioned the county commissioners’ plan to create a Legacy Fund from money that remained from the operations of then-county owned Clinton Memorial Hospital.
Creating a Legacy Fund could present itself to the commissioners as something to leverage together with the HealthFirst funds, “so I encourage you to keep that thought in mind,” because the Legacy Fund’s mission statement “is pretty much dead-on with our mission,” Holmer said.
He suggested commissioners think about the investment earnings potential of combining HealthFirst’s $3.8 million with $3 million.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.