Demonstrators gathered outside Ranson City Hall to protest Rockwool Rezoning Proposal

West Virginia

(Update: According the Ranson City Manager Anthony Grant, the city will reconvene on Tuesday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. due to technical difficulties on Zoom meeting, which prevented few participants to speak, the vote will expect to happen during the hearing.)

RANSON, W.Va. (WDVM) — More than a dozen protesters gathered outside the Ranson City Hall on Tuesday to express their opposition to the Rockwool Rezoning Proposal, which could clear the Rockwool Factory’s legal challenges to use the land in Kearneysville.

The Rockwool plant, which is owned by a Danish company that started its construction in 2016, was meant to support its parent company’s insulation production and bring economic benefits to the Eastern Panhandle. But that isn’t enough to convince residents in the local community who have environmental concerns.

Mary Reed from Berkeley County, who said she lives just five miles away, voiced her concern about the air pollution that the factory may bring. She said she wouldn’t want to open her window for fresh air after the factory is constructed and operational.

Tracy Danzey from Shepherdstown said: “As a nurse in Jefferson County, I think that heavy industry is not what we need.”

“If there is a school, there is no heavy industry” said Michelle Wheeler, who commented via Zoom.

In the second public hearing , which was conducted through Zoom due to social distancing rules, management from Rockwool was trying to justify the factory’s presence.

Paul Espinosa, who works as public affairs manager at Rockwool Ranson Facility, said “Over the next ten years, our new Ranson facility has estimated $218 million economic impacts,” including $64 million in payroll.

“More specifically to Ranson Facility, it will generate half a million to three quarters of a million dollars in annual tax revenue, representing 10% of Ranson’s annual budge,” Espinosa added.

After comments in this public hearing, there is yet have official result document yet as the hearing interrupted. But whatever the result will be, the battle between concern citizens in local community and the company would likely to continue in the future.

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