The Bath Twp. zoning board ruled against a company that collects biowaste and converts it to energy.
The Board of Zoning Appeals ruled that the bio-energy company Renergy, which operates in Bath Twp. outside of Fairborn, is not an agricultural zoning, but an industrial zoning.
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In September, an independent zoning inspector found Renergy, also known as Dovetail, was not compliant with the agricultural zoning of the land it sits on. Outside prosecutor Jess Weade issued a cease and desist order, giving Renergy 30 days to become compliant.
Renergy appealed that order and also appealed to build two large waste storage lagoons that have sparked protests from neighbors.
Dovetail continues to operate.
The bio-energy company leases land from Bath Twp. trustee Tom Pitstick. Pitstick declined to comment after the board’s decision.
“Finally the corruption is coming to light,” said resident Ron Lester.
Lester said his wife, Kassie, ran for township trustee because of the issues with the biodigester and won. Kassie Lester declined to comment because she is a trustee.
“She works so hard for the people and the other trustees make it hard for her to get things done,” Lester said. “She’s only one vote out of three.”
The board’s decision at Tuesday’s meeting affirms the independent inspector’s findings that Dovetail is not an agricultural operation.
Renergy can appeal the township’s decision.
“We are disappointed the BZA declined to consider the evidence showing that Dovetail is a public utility under Ohio law,” Renergy said in an emailed statement. “Dovetail has been treated as a public utility since its operations began. In fact, Green County’s tax authorities treat Dovetail as a public utility and have collected that revenue for years.”
Dovetail will appeal the decision to the Greene County Court of Common Pleas, the statement said.
“We’ve made our decision, after that it’s up to the people involved,” said BZA member Karen Hawk.
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The board deliberated for three hours behind closed doors and emerged with a ruling that surprised many residents in attendance.
Bath Twp. residents have been fighting with Renergy for years.
Lester said he has spent $10,000 of his own money and “countless hours” fighting the company.
“We’re not worried (if Renergy appeals the decision), we’re ready,” Lester said. “We’ve collected so much information. We’ve done so many FOIA requests.”
Dovetail converts solid waste to electricity and fertilizer that is then put on farmers’ fields. The company produces one megawatt of electricity, which powers about 1,000 homes. Dovetail accepts food waste, manure and waste from various municipalities’ waste water treatment plants.
Residents have concerns about the smell of the facility and the long-term effects of living in close proximity to those materials.
“We’re worried about everybody’s water, their property values, the air quality,” Lester said. “This threatens Dayton’s qater too. We all drink from the same well. It’s not a agricultural facility. It’s a sewage pit.”
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