Tuesday, February 14, 2012


On January 17th of this year at a meeting of the North Canton City Council, a controversy erupted that probably has its origin out of the larger Stark County community.

Chris Borello of the Concerned Citzens of Stark County (CCSC) has been in dialogue for some time via email with former Canton Health Director Bob Pattison about protecting the quality of drinking water in North Canton.

Why Bob Pattison?  Because he (a North Canton resident) is the chairman of the North Canton Source Water Assessment & Protection Committee (SWAP).

Borello (a Plain Township resident and former Lake Township resident) has been concerned about the integrity of Stark County drinking water supplies since she first got active as a concerned citizen (about 1983) with the revelation that hazardous materials were dumped by area industrial companies in a quarry about a half mile south of the center of Uniontown during the time span 1966 through 1978.

The site is now known as the Uniontown Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL - 1984) superfund site. Superfund is a designation of federal legislation designed to deal with hazardous material cleanups.

Borello's focus appears to be based on her fear of an underground migration of contamination leeching from IEL into water sources for nearby communities (for a contrary view insofar as North Canton in concerned CLICK HERE).

Borello and her supporters fears have been heightened of late because of the onset of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in Stark County and, in particular, concerns that fracking may be in the offing on lands in Plain Township near to a city of North Canton well field which they feared might jeopardize the safety of the well field as a source of drinking water for North Cantonians.

Former North Canton councilman Jeff Davies took an interest in the Borello et al fracking concerns in the last year or so of the end of his term in office.  However, he dropped the effort for what he said in an email to Plain Township Trustee Lou Giavasis (a leading Stark County opponent of fracking) was pre-election pressure being applied to North Canton Council by the Stark Development Board:

With his defeat in the 2011 elections, one had to wonder who might pick up where Davies left off.

The answer seems to be two-fold:  first, the Source Water Assessment & Protection Committee, and, secondly, Councilman Jeff Peters (Ward 2) to the extent that he is leading the effort to protect SWAP in its "drinking water protecting" function from an recent attempt to amend Ordinance 58-07 (originally passed on 06/25/2007) to give the Superintendent of the North Canton Water Treatment Plant the authority to set the agenda and determine when the committee should meet.  See the 01/17/2012 MINUTES which elaborate on the intentions as explained by various council members in offering the amendment in the first place.

It seems that some on North Canton Council (prompted by concerns expressed by council's legal counsel that SWAP fracking and street sweepings considerations may compromise city legal positions)  were not all that thrilled that SWAP had gone off recently into a consideration of the fracking process and its byproducts and street sweepings as they might affect the quality of North Canton's drinking water. 

One area media outlet ascribed a "censor" motive to Council President Jon Snyder.  But last night he told the SCPR his position was mischaracterized and that he is not in favor of changing the role/function of SWAP, to wit:

It appears to the SCPR that Councilman Peters has been effective to stop the move to "censor?" the scope of SWAP's functioning.  And, by the way, he told The Report that he had not been approached by the oil and gas industry and pressured not to consider anti-fracking legislation pre-the-2011-council-elections.

While on the surface, council is waiting for SWAP chairman Bob Pattison to return from vacation in Florida in April to move forward on the amendment, Councilman Peters tells The Report that he is confident that he has the votes to defeat the attempt to amend 58-07 should its sponsor(s) persist, to wit:

Also speaking to the issue was Councilman-at-large Mark Cerreta (apparently, as chairman of  the Water, Sewer and Rubbish Committee) who appears to be the prime driving force on council pushing for the amendment, to wit.

If Peters is correct in his assessment, it appears that SWAP will maintain its original function and role and will be free to consider whatever issues surface that the committee thinks could affect the potability of North Canton's water.

So in the end, the whole thing about refashioning SWAP may well prove to have been a "tempest in the teapot!"

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