FAIRBORN — The Bath Township Board of Trustees unanimously voted Wednesday to appeal the recent appellate court ruling in favor of a zoning exemption for Renergy/Dovetail to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The 2nd District Court of Appeals recently upheld a decision by Greene County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Buckwalter that the Renergy biodigester in Bath Township is a public utility and not subject to zoning restrictions.
“I would say that though I’m disappointed in the appeals court decision, that’s not the last step,” said Trustee Rob Hoffman. “The next step obviously would be petitioning the Supreme Court. When I ran, I told you all that I was here to fight and I’m going to continue to fight.”
Residents have complained about an odor that comes from the facility on Herr Road and have a civil lawsuit pending. Dovetail energy officials have disputed those claims.
Trustee Michelle Clements sided with the residents.
“(Dovetail COO Cari Oberfield COO) stated that any allegations that they’ve done harm to anyone’s air or water, there was no evidence supporting that,” Clements said. “I’d like to clarify the statement as simply not true according to the EPA inspector’s public records. There is absolutely 100 percent validity to the odor issue that can be traced back to the biodigester as noted by the EPA.”
Clements said she believes the problem lies in the EPA’s failure to issue Dovetail Energy an odor citation, even though some nuisance odors have been detected.
Clements read several EPA reports aloud in the meeting, which listed the odor inside Dovetail Energy’s biodigester facility as strong. The Daily Herald obtained a copy of these reports. The odors listed in the reports at Site 1, which is the biodigester itself, are mostly listed as strong and the odors at surrounding sites are mostly listed as slight. One report listed a nuisance odor at Site 7, which is located off of Byron Road.
Oberfield disagreed with Clements’ statements.
“I was disheartened by the misstatements made by members of the Bath Township Trustees at Wednesday night’s meeting,” she told the Daily Herald. “To date, despite almost weekly inspections by the Ohio EPA, Dovetail has never received an odor violation. 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. While no digester is 100 percent odor-free, it is not the cause of the Township’s odor issues. The Bath Township trustees have a standing invitation to arrange a tour of our facility so that they can see for themselves how an anaerobic digester works and directly ask us questions and share their concerns. As a local small business, we would look forward to working with them as a community partner.”
Trustee Kassie Lester told township residents not to give up.
“The board is working diligently to look at every angle possible,” she said. “Have faith in this board. We are trying our hardest to get this accomplished.”
Clements echoed those thoughts.
“As I have said from day one, we will leave no stone unturned as we all have a right to enjoy our property without the smell. Just as you, the residents, are working many different angles, please know that your trustees are also working many different angles,” Clements said.
The Daily Herald will post the reports to its website as soon as possible.
Contact MacKenzie Tastan at 937-372-4444.