Township trustee may have to pay to repair road near bio-energy company

Bath Twp. trustees received a traffic study from the Greene County Engineer stating improvements must be made to Herr Road, which leads to a bio-waste operation that sits on the farm of one of those trustees.

The study is now part of an ongoing zoning legal case against the bio-waste operation.

Greene County Engineer Stephanie Goff studied the traffic on Herr Road and said that without upgrades to the road, her office is concerned about the long-term condition of the road and its ability to serve high volumes of heavy truck traffic.

The Greene County Engineer’s office studied the road leading to the Renergy bio-energy operation on Trustee Tom Pitstick’s farm, outside of Fairborn.

In March, the Bath Twp. Board of Zoning Appeals ruled the bio-energy company Renergy is not operating in accordance to their land’s agricultural zoning, but instead is operating a business more appropriate for industrial zoning. Renergy has appealed this ruling. Renergy, also known as Dovetail Energy, is a company that collects biowaste and converts it to energy.

In September of 2019, an independent zoning inspector found Renergy was not compliant with the agricultural zoning of the land it sits on. Fayette prosecutor Jess Weade issued a cease and desist order, giving Renergy 30 days to become compliant. The bio-energy company appealed that order and continued operating.

Renergy continues to operate today, despite the March zoning ruling.

Bath Twp. Trustee Steve Ross said the traffic study has been submitted to the township’s lawyer Michael Bly as part of ongoing litigation.

“Bath Twp. is committed to following the process,” Ross said.

Ross read a statement from Bly on the issue: “Briefs have been submitted and the matter is now before the court waiting a decision on several procedural issues.”

One of those briefs include a motion filed by Bath Twp. asking why Dovetail and Bath Twp. Trustee Pitstick should not be held in contempt of court, Ross said. This was filed in July.

“To date Dovetail and Pitstick have failed to obtain a stay of execution of the zoning inspectors decision and have continued to operate. Accordingly Bath Twp., in its ongoing effort to enforce compliance with the zoning resolution, filed a motion to show cause as to why Dovetail and Pitstick should not be held in contempt of court for failing to abide by the zoning board’s ruling,” the statement from the township’s attorney read.

These issues are pending before Greene County Judge Michael Buckwalter.

Ross said as a township, they live and die by the Ohio Revised Code. Bath Twp. does not have an enforcement arm, so everything must go through the courts, he said.

“This is taking forever and I understand that it is very frustrating to all involved,” Ross said. “The legal process can be long and drawn out.”

In her study, Goff said Herr Road was not designed to accommodate the high daily volumes of heavy truck traffic.

An average of 231 vehicles per day traveled the road during the traffic study, with a quarter of the traffic coming from trucks. The study states that if truck traffic headed to the Pitstick farm were removed, there would be about 15% less truck traffic on the road.

The traffic counts were collected with tube counters between March 16 and March 20.

As a result of the traffic study, Goff requested that Pitstick, make several improvements, including: providing a projected daily total truck traffic volume expected to use the driveway, by vehicle type; designating a truck route that all heavy vehicles entering and exiting the Pitstick property will use; and constructing and improving the portion of Herr Road that will serve as the truck route.

Ross said Goff did not give the township a timeline to complete these recommendations. Bath Twp. is planning on “following the legal process,” Ross said, and therefore he did not know when the township would act on the county engineer’s recommendations.

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