PITTSFIELD TWP — French Creek BioEnergy LLC withdrew its appeal challenging the Pittsfield Township zoning inspector’s issuance of a cease-and-desist order and notice of violation.
The company, operating under Quasar Energy Group, announced it would not go through with its proposal to operate a sludge pond constructed off of Quarry Road in a news release sent to The Chronicle-Telegram on April 30, but the Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees was awaiting official notification from the company.
Mark McConnell, chairman of the trustees, said the Pittsfield Township Board of Zoning Appeals’ meeting scheduled for June 20 is canceled in light of French Creek BioEnergy’s decision to forego the project.
McConnell said he expected a long legal battle when French Creek BioEnergy filed the appeal, so he was pleased that the company decided not to fight the zoning board’s decision that the lagoon was an “industrial” use not permitted by the zoning resolution.
Community members, who spoke out against the pond which was supposed to store treated human waste, were pleased with the decision as well, but they also expressed concerns to the trustees at Monday’s meeting, which at times became heated.
“What are the consequences or accountability for what they’ve done to this township?” resident Joyce Snyder asked. “Are they getting any kind of fine? ”
Residents told the trustees they were concerned about Donald Ortner’s property, which had disturbed nearby wetlands when the pond was built.
According to a notice of violation letter from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, there were several violations on the property, including improper storm water runoff controls. Ortner and Quasar have disputed who was responsible for the earth-disturbing activity, and neither has taken responsibility for correcting the problems, according to the Ohio EPA.
Each could face fines from the Ohio EPA, according to the notice of violation letter, but McConnell said the township is not taking any enforcement action against Ortner or the company unless their attorney, Gerry Innes, recommends it.
McConnell said he took issue with criticism during Monday’s meeting from some residents, who said the trustees should have done more to prevent Quasar from beginning the project in Pittsfield Township.
McConnell said he was not notified that the pond was being built, and he assumed Ortner was clearing his woods. Residents said the believed the pond was an irrigation source until December, when they learned what the pond would store.
After learning about the project, McConnell said Innes was contacted in December to determine whether a cease-and-desist order could be issued.
Residents also asked that the trustees to re-examine the township’s zoning laws and make them stricter, including fines for those who violate the laws. According to residents at the meeting, changes have been proposed to the zoning board, who is considering them.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.