COLUMBIANA (WKBN) — Columbiana Mayor Bryan Blakeman called a special meeting Tuesday night because of rumors around town about a “man-camp,” or a series of extended-stay motels where oil and gas workers would live, being built in the area.
However, city leaders said a motel has not officially been introduced to them and there is no concrete evidence one would be built.
“I just think there are people upset and people thinking there is something that’s not there,” said Columbiana Councilman Dick Simpson.
Blakeman estimates a few hundred people showed up at the meeting, with over 70 more turned away due to lack of space. But those who were able to stay at the meeting made sure their voices were heard.
“The only thing I’m going to talk about that tonight is to quell rumors,” Blakeman said.
“I think everyone is getting worked up over the word of man-camp,” said Dani Clancy, a Columbiana resident.
Many in the crowded room worry the former Lake Front Golf Course would turn into a place of crime if an extended stay motel is built there, talking about other towns in what they are calling ‘the same boat as Columbiana.’
“They have an increase in drunken driving, hell raising, rape, drug use, increased traffic violations. This puts an increased burden on police,” said Clancy.
Mayor Blakeman wants to create an architectural review board before new motels would ever move to town.
“From a zoning standpoint, it can be detrimental to property prices,” said Blakeman.
Simpson says he would be in favor of the motels moving to town, as long as they follow city zoning laws.
“I hear rumors going all over town, I know they want to develop that part of the community and I think it would be good for the community,” said Simpson.
Blakeman called for a vote to create an architectural review board and council members eventually voted to table the issue indefinitely. This means no changes will take place with the zoning laws in regards to any possible extended-stay motels.