BATH TOWNSHIP — A group of Bath Township and Fairborn residents gathered at the Bath Township trustee meeting Wednesday to demand the resignation of trustees Tom Pitstick and Steve Ross.
Seven residents presented a Change.org petition at the meeting, which at time of writing has been signed by more than 400 people. The petition, written and read by Fairborn resident Lorie Venable, cites a lack of “good faith” on the part of the two trustees to reach a fire/EMS deal with the city of Fairborn, and a “long standing conflict of interest” regarding the Dovetail biodigester facility.
The petition also cites legal financial burden on the township, and a request for information by the Ohio Ethics Commission, among other things.
The document reads, in part, “We believe that Steve Ross and Tom Pitstick have continually failed to hold the best interest of the citizens of Bath Township and the City of Fairborn (which resides in Bath Township) as their primary focus, and have let their personal views and interests result in decisions that have both negatively and adversely affected citizens thereof.”
Pitstick has come under fire in recent years for the construction of a biodigester facility on his property on Herr Road. The facility breaks down farm waste, restaurant waste, and (until recently) municipal waste to provide renewable energy and fertilizer for Pitstick’s business and surrounding farms. However, in 2019, the Dovetail biodigester facility was found in violation of the Ohio Revised Code and Bath Township Zoning Resolution. Dovetail and Pitstick have since appealed that ruling.
Prior to the public comments section, during which the petition was read, Pitstick and Ross read public statements of their own, addressing the concerns of the public. Pitstick, in his comments, addressed Venable specifically.
“Lorie lives in the city of Fairborn,” Pitstick said. “Lorie and her husband paid a whopping $35.96 to Bath Township in 2019. She is continually complaining about how the trustees are misspending her money, yet the time it has taken to fulfill all her public records requests by the township staff has cost substantially more than the $35.96 she has paid to the township.”
“There has been a lot of information and misinformation being discussed throughout the community and on social media regarding the biodigester,” Ross said. “Through this litigation, everything — including Herr Road, complaints about odor, the existing lagoon, the proposed new lagoons, the traffic, the processing of human waste — literally everything about the Dovetail operation is on the table. Both current and future trustees should, above all, act with discretion and wisdom.”
After the petition was presented to the trustees, other residents voiced additional complaints. Luke Borntrager, who also lives on Herr Road, said that he has counted the passage of as many as 80 tank trucks in a day to and from the facility. Borntrager said that the drivers of those trucks do not obey traffic laws, and often have to dip their wheels off of the side of the road in order to pass one another.
“I’ve been forced off the road numerous times. My wife has been forced off the road numerous times,” he said. “While it may be a single pass to these truckers coming in and out, it is one of several thousand we put up with every year on Herr Road.”
Additionally, the odor surrounding Bath Township has been a source of great consternation among residents.
“Some nights, you can’t go outside,” Fairborn resident John Connolly said of the smell. “I can’t open the windows.”
Trustee Kassie Lester said that she supports the residents who came forward with the petition on Wednesday.
“It was a show from the residents that this is affecting more people than it has in the past,” she said.
Though Lester would not speak to ongoing litigation, she said she would continue to oppose the biodigester as long as she remains in office.
“I stand by my residents,” Lester said. “It’s no secret where I stand on this issue.”
Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter