Editor’s note: This is the third and final story in a series highlighting use of biosolids in Bath Township and resident concerns.
BATH TOWNSHIP — The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a public hearing 6 p.m. Thursday, March 22 at the Howard Conference Center in the Greene County Career Center, 2960 W. Enon Road in Xenia, regarding a permit application to expand operations at a Bath Township farm where renewable energy is produced.
The permit application has been a cause of concern for some Bath Township residents, including Ron and Kassie Lester, who reside on the 700 block of Herr Road. The group of concerned citizens plans to attend the public hearing to voice their opposing views.
Some of the issues raised by the group included the potential depreciation of residential properties near the facility and the impact of increased semi-truck traffic transporting the sludge over narrow country roads to the digester plant.
“The trucks are tearing up our roads and spilling sludge onto them. The township has spoken to the Ohio Department of Transportation about widening the intersection at State Route 235 and Herr Road to compensate for the large trucks. I am sure the Bath Township taxpayers will have to absorb some of the costs that will incur with the project,” Lester said.
The Lester couple also filed a zoning complaint with Bath Township Zoning Inspector Jim Miller on Feb. 7. The couple claimed that the agricultural exemption status of the facility was inaccurate and should be rezoned for commercial/industrial use. However, their complaint was denied.
“According to Ohio Revised Code 5713.30 (A) (1) (b), a digester can only be zone agricultural if 50 percent of the feedstock that is used comes from the farm. In the case of this digester, a combination of 5 percent hog manure, 25 percent biosolids (human waste), and 70 percent industrial waste is used in the process,” Lester said. “This information comes straight from the Renergy flyer for this facility.”
Greene County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Hayden, who is the legal representative of the township, provided a written response to the complaint on Feb. 9 and reiterated on the topic during the Feb. 21 township meeting.
“Ohio townships are limited as to what they can and cannot enforce from a zoning perspective. Those limitations come from state law and not from an individual township or county,” Hayden stated in her response. “Once a property qualifies for the zoning exemption, there is simply nothing that the township zoning, administrator, the township trustees, the prosecutor’s office, or any other county office can do from a zoning perspective.”
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.