Essroc Plant Loses Zoning Appeal to Burn Alternative Fuel

The Clark County Board of Zoning Appeals deemed an earlier decision to allow Essroc’s Speed, Ind., cement plant to burn hazardous waste as void, reported the Courier-Journal. Essroc argued in a filing with the board that county officials were wrong to reverse an earlier determination that no zoning changes were needed for it to burn the chemical waste.

“I’m disappointed in the decision,” said Jeremy Black, manager at Essroc’s Speed plant, “but I’m confident that we’ve got other means to obtain the required authorization to continue with the project.”

The Courier-Journal reported in June that the plant’s plans to burn hazardous waste for fuel were thrown into disarray with the reversal of a December 2015 zoning determination that had been favorable to the company. County officials claimed they were misled by Essroc when they subsequently learned that the company applied for hazardous waste storage permits from Indiana regulators. In response, county officials said the company needed to seek a zoning change or a variance to be classified as a hazardous waste zone.

Essroc attorney C. Gregory Fifer maintained in his argument that the company never misrepresented what it wanted to do as it held meetings with the community and county since it proposed burning the fuel in 2014.

Essroc maintained the county had no authority to reverse itself, and it should have first held a public meeting giving Essroc a chance to respond. Local zoning laws also don’t allow such a reversal.

The zoning came into question after Michael Tackett, the former executive director of planning and zoning, signed a letter in June 2015 stating that the company would be allowed to burn the waste as fuel in a cement kiln without having to get its property rezoned with the hazardous waste zoning classification.

With the company’s current zoning, Essroc cannot use the alternative fuel as the land-use category bans various activities involving hazardous waste within one mile of other businesses, residences and schools.

Essroc is also still waiting on a proposed air quality permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which it needs to make the fuel modification. Company officials have maintained that burning the new fuel will save money and reduce most of its emissions.

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