Proposed regulations for biodigesters stirs community conversation

Proposed regulations for biodigesters stirs community conversation
Published: Jul. 25, 2016 at 9:09 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2016 at 4:41 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Louisville Metro Council is informing the public about anaerobic biodigesters and methane plants.
The meeting comes more than six months after STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill withdrew their request to build a biodigester in the California neighborhood, on 17th Street, because of community concerns.
In the past, neighbors have voiced their fear of an unwanted odor and possible explosions due to a proposed biodigester. However, Star Bio Energy promised the methane would be filtered through a system that will create a safe and odorless environment.
Now, Council Members are hosting several meetings to encourage the public to learn more about the regulations regarding the placement of biodigesters within the city.

PREVIOUS STORY: Request for controversial biodigester withdrawn
"The Council voted to put a moratorium in place on these facilities and asked for a thorough review of where they should be located in Jefferson County," Councilman David James (D-6) said. "That process includes developing regulations on where these facilities would be located and now we need to hear from the public."
Proposed regulations have been drafted by Develop Louisville's Office of Planning & Design Services, following a comprehensive study requested by the Louisville Metro Council. The proposed regulations station biodigesters on in industrially zoned sites in the city, separated by at least a quarter mile from homes, churches and schools, under proposed zoning regulations released today. The proposal also requires at least 1,320 feet between the biodigester site and residential properties and property used by the community. The regulations also include operational standards to govern noise, odor, traffic and other potential impacts, according to the Metro Council.
Because state law governs that agricultural uses are exempt from zoning requirements, a biodigester that is part of a bona fide agricultural operation in permitted as of right, as would not be subject to the separation requirements of the proposed regulations, according to Metro Council.
"This proposed regulation represents a good starting point for discussion," James said. "We are eager to get community input because this is a quality of life and quality of neighborhood issue."
During the upcoming information meetings, the council plans to explain the proposed regulations and receive feedback from the community. The meetings will be hosted by the University of Louisville's Center for Environmental Policy and Management, the West Jefferson County Community Task Force and other community partners, with Planning & Design Services staff in attendance to answer questions and receive citizen feedback.

"These hearings are important. For more than a year, many of us have expressed our concerns about where these biodigesters should be located and I do not want them located within two miles of residential area, churches, schools, hospitals and playgrounds or parks," Councilwoman Mary C. Woolridge (D-3) said. "We have asked for these guidelines and now we want to make sure the neighborhoods and others are heard when it comes to the final product."
"Now is the time to let your voice be heard on an issue that has caused a great deal of concern for many areas of West Louisville," Councilwoman Jessica Green (D-1) said. "If you have a strong opinion about this issue, it's time to come forward and speak up."      
The meetings are scheduled as follows:

July 25, 6–8 p.m.
California Community Center: 1600 W. St. Catherine Street
Southwest Library: 9725 Dixie Highway

July 26, 6–8 p.m.
East Government Center: 200 Juneau Drive
Beechmont Community Center: 205 W. Wellington Avenue

July 27, 6-8 p.m.
Newburg Library: 4800 Exeter Ave.
Central Government Center: 7201 Outer Loop

Another meeting will be hosted by the Planning Commission's Planning Committee on Thursday, at 9 a.m. in the Old Jail auditorium, 514 W. Liberty Street, along with a public hearing on the draft regulations at a special meeting Monday, Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. in the Old Jail Auditorium. Following the public hearings, the Planning Commission will forward a recommendation to the Metro Council for final action.

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Written comments can be submitted to staff case manager Brian Mabry via email at or by letter to 444 S. 5th St., Suite 300, Louisville, Kentucky 40202.

All comments received by noon on Aug. 1, 2016 will be considered by the Planning Commission prior to making its recommendation to the Metro Council.

For a look at industrial zones properties, click or tap here. To review the draft regulations, click or tap here
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