BATH TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – A Greene County bio-solid (human waste, food waste and industrial waste) processing plant could be shut down after a lengthy battle with local residents.
An independent investigation surrounding zoning permits led to a cease and desist order against Renergy Inc., an Ohio-based bio energy company, to bring its Dovetail Energy LLC facility into compliance with the Bath Township zoning code or face legal action.
Our partner paper the Xenia Gazette first reported the findings.
This development happens as residents have fought for roughly two years to shut the facility down.
“Finally somebody listened!” expressed Cassie Lester, a Bath Township resident.
Lester is part of a grassroots, community-led movement that launched after the facility went up without notice. Between the smell and traffic, the community felt like they were slapped in the face.
“It limits your outside activities. A lot of it is going to be dependent on which way the wind is blowing. We have proof it (fluid) has been on the road. People have been driving through it. It’s on this road,” said Lester.
Tom Pitstick, a Bath Township Trustee owns the property where the Renergy plant is.
The EPA and township repeatedly denied that Renergy was violating zoning or environmental laws/regulations.
Not long ago, Renergy applied for and was approved to build an additional 32 million gallon waste lagoon.
That won’t happen now after a special prosecutor from Fayette County and a private zoning inspector found that Rengery and Pitstick were in violation of Bath Township zoning.
“He ruled this as an industrial operation. He said this would be a spot zoning case. Which would be hard to obtain for zoning purposes,” said Lester.
Essentially, the facility was not taking in enough waste from the local hog farm. Instead, it was getting more waste from other facilities, making it more industrial than agricultural.
Greene County initially denied help to residents in Bath Township. The county does do business with Renergy. Pitstick also recently removed himself from any township involvement with zoning issues surrounding his own property.
Renergy is looking at their legal options. They released a statement saying:
“Renergy is building a business that helps reduce the amount of waste in our landfills and reduces greenhouse gases, while creating clean energy in the process. We are disappointed by the township’s decision and the possible negative impacts it could have on local small businesses and farmers. It is currently being reviewed by our legal team.”
“We recognize these are complex issues, but we remain committed to working with our neighbors, local officials and state regulators to support more sustainable agricultural practices in Greene County.”
Bath Township has roughly 30 days to try to keep the bio waste facility open.
“If things are not in compliance by then, we will be taking the next step, which could include some type of resolution with the company and leaseholder, litigations or presenting the zoning violations in municipal court,” said Special Prosecutor Jess C. Weade.
Jacob Barnes, an independent zoning inspector did say his findings were strictly from a zoning point-of-view.
“This permit appears to have been issued correctly based on the information the township had at the time,” Barnes said.
2 NEWS will provide updates to this story when they become available.