Dovetail withdraws from biodigester settlement negotiations

Dovetail Bioenergy has withdrawn from formal settlement negotiations with Bath Twp. trustees regarding the company’s biodigester facility, prompting both parties to take next steps in the court of appeals.

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Dovetail Bioenergy has withdrawn from formal settlement negotiations with Bath Twp. trustees regarding the company’s biodigester facility, prompting both parties to take next steps in the court of appeals.

Talks between Renergy and Bath Twp have ceased.

Dovetail Bioenergy has withdrawn from formal settlement negotiations with Bath Twp. trustees regarding the company’s biodigester facility, prompting both parties to take next steps in the court of appeals.

The township is currently appealing a ruling by Greene County Judge Michael Buckwalter, who declared in May that Dovetail was a public utility, and therefore exempt from township zoning regulation. Dovetail and Bath Twp. entered into settlement negotiations in early June.

Renergy Inc., Dovetail’s parent company, withdrew from negotiations after nearly three months of discussion, citing trustee and public comments that “developed into people making false statements about Renergy and its operations.”

“Despite the fact that the courts have been very clear that the township has no jurisdiction over Renergy, Renergy was willing to take steps to address citizens’ concerns as a way to fix its relationship with the township and be responsive to the community,” COO Cari Oberfield said. “It takes two parties acting in good faith to repair a relationship, and Renergy cannot move forward if the township is not willing to do so.”

The Dovetail biodigester uses an anaerobic process to break down food waste and manure into methane gas for electricity and fertilizer for surrounding farmland. The facility has long been opposed by residents on account of odor and environmental concerns.

Negotiations centered on three main points: constructing an engineered lid on existing ponds to mitigate nuisance odor, a Road Use Maintenance Agreement (RUMA) to address damage to Herr Road, where the biodigester is located, and a legal agreement stating Renergy would no longer seek a permit to build additional lagoons for storing biosolids.

Talks broke down regarding the legal language of the third issue and Renergy’s ability to expand their business, trustee Steve Ross said.

“Our objective is to continue to work to resolve those three issues. How we do that is still up for grabs,” he said. “Most importantly, we’ve got to follow the process. Hopefully there’s a path.”

Trustee Kassie Lester said she had been pushing for the inclusion of an Emergency Management Plan in the agreement, based on an incident earlier this year at Emerald Bioenergy, Dovetail’s sister facility.

“If something goes wrong, our firefighters and first responders need to know what they’re getting themselves into,” she said.

The appeal will continue until an agreement is reached, Lester said.

“There’s always an open door,” she continued. “I have a feeling they would possibly come back, but I’m going to hold fast to the best possible outcome for our residents.”

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