Township will petition Ohio Supreme Court over biodigester ruling

·2 min read

Jan. 24—BATH TWP — Township trustees unanimously voted to petition the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday regarding the recent appellate court ruling in favor of Renergy in its biodigester zoning case.

The appeals court upheld a Greene County court ruling that the facility is exempt from township zoning regulations. The decision to cites a section of Ohio law that confers "no power on any board of township trustees or board of zoning appeals" to regulate public utilities.

Westfield Twp. in Morrow County, the site of Dovetail's sister facility, Emerald Bioenergy, has already petitioned the Ohio Supreme Court, but it is yet to be determined whether the Court will hear the case. Trustee Rob Hoffman said the fact that two cases relating to the same company are before the Supreme Court may work in the township's favor.

"That's what the citizens elected Michelle (Clements) and I for and we're going to fight the fight. We can't stop now," trustee Rob Hoffman said.

Renergy operates the Dovetail biodigester at 1156 Herr Road in Bath Twp. outside Fairborn. Anaerobic digesters are enclosed facilities in which manure and food waste is stored to produce fertilizer and methane gas, which is used to power neighboring homes. The electricity produced by Dovetail is publicly distributed through FirstEnergy.

The EPA performs odor surveys of seven sites around Dovetail, including onsite, and send those odor reports to the company weekly. To date, the EPA has conducted odor surveys at Dovetail over 400 times, but has not issued a nuisance odor citation. Trustee Michelle Clements said Wednesday that she believes the problem lies in the EPA's failure to issue Dovetail Energy an odor citation, a claim Renergy refutes.

"The results of almost weekly inspections by the Ohio EPA over the previous are in stark contrast to the comments made Wednesday night. While no biodigester is 100% odor-free, it is clearly not the cause of the Township's odor issues. It is extremely disappointing that members of the Township Trustees have mischaracterized the results to suggest otherwise," Renergy COO Cari Oberfield said. "Our facility, which is adjacent to a hog farm, keeps food waste out of the landfill, powers local farms with renewable energy, and in fact reduces agricultural odors. As a local small business, we would look forward to working with them as a community partner."

The company has stated the newly elected trustees have an open invitation to visit the facility for themselves.

"I'm absolutely open to that. I would also counter and ask them to visit us at a [Fairborn] football game Friday night and smell what they're smelling," Hoffman said, adding that many of the complaints he receives come from around Baker Middle School.

A class action lawsuit against Renergy is also pending in Greene County court.