Permit Issue Curtails Dumping of Debris from Razed School

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – A contractor razing the former East Junior High School building on Maryland Avenue was banned from dumping demolition debris on Ohio Avenue after it was learned the company had not obtained the proper city permits for dumping inside the city.

City Planning Director Bill Cowan said he checked after a phone call was received from a resident reporting debris from the demolition site was being dumped alongside a private home on Ohio Avenue.

Cowan reported finding piles of construction debris dumped over the hillside, adjacent to the floodplain along the Ohio River. The house is located near the city water plant, he said.

Cowan spoke with Jim Matash of M&M Demolition and Excavating and was advised an “intent to fill” letter had been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to dump at that address.

Matash said he believed he had followed the proper steps by obtaining the contract with the EPA, Cowan said. 

However, a city permit must be obtained for such dumping, which requires a survey to first be completed showing the topography where the dumping is to take place, as well as a final survey showing the final grade once filled. A bond also must be filed with the city for such dumping.

Debris is loaded into a truck at the site of the former East Junior High School in East Liverpool.

According to Cowan, either the contractor or property owner could have applied for the proper city permits, but neither did, and as soon as he saw the debris on Ohio Avenue, the dumping was shut down. 

Matash said he would take the remaining debris to a landfill outside Rogers. A neighbor called the next day to say dumping was again taking place at the Ohio Avenue site, prompting another visit by Cowan.

He found the contractor was just covering the previously dumped debris with clean topsoil and leveling it out. Cowan said he would rather see the topsoil visible than the debris.

All the debris was “clean,” as the school building had already been remediated of asbestos and any hazardous materials, leaving only brick, block and concrete to be disposed of.

Cowan said he does not believe much of the debris made its way from where it was dumped to the floodplain down the slope, but he said the floodplain permit would have been required nonetheless.

The contractor has been allowed to continue working on the Maryland Avenue site since he is now taking the demolition debris outside the city. 

Meanwhile, Cowan notified assistant Law Director John Gamble to determine if it is worth pursuing and having the contractor clean up the Ohio Avenue dump site. As of this week, he had not been advised of any action being recommended.

All that remains of the former East Junior High School in East Liverpool are these piles of debris waiting to be hauled to a landfill.

The school building was constructed in 1954 and served students until 1982, permanently closing in 2017 and standing vacant since. The city school district had swapped the school and 6 acres with the city in 2012 for land near Pope Street. In 2022, the city transferred it to the nonprofit Community Improvement Corporation for development.

A $1.1 million brownfield remediation grant was awarded by the state in 2022 to the Columbiana County Land Reutilization Corporation, more commonly known as the Land Bank, which has taken over the remediation and demolition aspects of the project, including hiring the contractors.

Haedan Panezott, Land Bank executive director, said this week the contractor “followed due diligence, doing what he thought he was supposed to do” in filing the letter of intent with the EPA. He said he believed it was a misunderstanding, saying he doesn’t know how often it occurs that a city requires obtaining local permits for dumping debris.

Panezott confirmed Cowan’s assessment that the debris was “clean,” with no hazardous components.

Panezott previously said the cost of abating asbestos by The Howland Co. of Boardman was $367,445, while the demolition cost by M&M Demolition of Vienna would be $345,070.

Demolition began May 30, and the tear down permit obtained from the city indicates the completion date is July 31.

A message left with Matash seeking comment was not returned.

Pictured at top: Piles of brick, block and concrete from the demolition of East Junior High School were dumped alongside a home on Ohio Avenue.

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