The company that sought to construct a 5 million gallon lagoon east of Chillicothe to store wastewater from food processing plants has withdrawn its application for a conditional use permit.
The company that sought to construct a 5 million gallon lagoon east of Chillicothe to store wastewater from food processing plants has withdrawn its application for a conditional use permit. The company gave verbal notification to Livingston County Zoning Administrator Mark Shockey early Tuesday morning and followed that with written notification from Marcus Tilley, the regional environmental manager for Terra Renewal Services, Inc., early afternoon. This action followed a public hearing conducted by the Livingston County Planning and Zoning Commission that took place in the circuit courtroom of the courthouse Monday evening. An estimated 75 people attended. After about 90 minutes of discussion, the planning and zoning commission voted to support a recommendation for the Livingston County Commission to deny the conditional use permit. The county commission’s public hearing was scheduled for Tuesday morning. Although the hearing took place, no vote was taken because one commissioner – Dave Mapel – was not present due to his attendance at the funeral of former state Rep. Mike Lair; and because Commissioner Alvin Thompson would be abstaining from the vote due to a family relationship with Shane Baxter, on whose property the lagoon was proposed. The discussion was tabled until Tuesday, Sept. 12, pending written notification of the applicant’s withdrawal. When asked how the commission would vote, if the matter came to a vote, Presiding Commissioner Ed Douglas pointed out the purpose of the county’s planning and zoning commission. “We have the authority to not take their recommendation, but that is not why we appointed them,” Douglas said. “We appointed them to study it out, make those hard decisions and make a recommendation to the county commission.” Terra Renewal Services, Inc., of Dardanelle, Ark., had applied for a conditional use permit to construct a waste storage basin for industrial food residuals for land application as a soil amendment or as an organic fertilizer. The conditional use permit was up for discussion because the land currently is zoned agriculture. Although product from the storage lagoon would have agricultural purpose, the lagoon would be a commercial storage facility and, therefore, require a conditional user permit. The lagoon was planned for privately-owned property on LIV 261, approximately four miles east of Chillicothe and one mile north of U.S. Highway 36. The basin would have measured 215 feet wide, by 315 feet long and 20 feet deep. The facility would have been the company’s first lagoon system. The company’s other facilities are smaller and enclosed. The lagoon system, company officials said, would provide greater storage and year-round capacity as opposed to an enclosed tank. Shockey stated that the county’s zoning attorney said that because it would be a storage facility, it would need to be classified as a solid waste management area, and thus require a conditional use permit. Monday’s public hearing was to hear details about the request and offer input prior to the county commission taking a vote. The planning and zoning commission is comprised of one representative from each of the county’s 13 townships. Ten of the 13 members were present Monday evening and all of those in attendance voted in favor of denying the permit. Shockey opened the hearing and outlined the format, stating that certain criteria must be met before the committee could recommend approval of the permit. Things to be taken into consideration, he said, included whether the development would produce dust, noise, odor, or vibration, whether it could reduce property value or keep people from enjoying their property in the immediate vicinity. “Those are all things that we came up with as part of the criteria,” Shockey said Tuesday. “I think it was fairly evident last night by everyone’s testimony that folks felt they did not meet that criteria.” David Beck, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, led Monday night’s hearing and stated that the purpose of the hearing was to obtain details about the proposed project and gather public input. Company representatives, John Pipkin and Corey Bauer, were in attendance and explained their proposal and answered questions from the public. The company representatives said the material coming into the lagoon would be, on average, 90 percent water and 10 percent organic solids that come from washing down equipment in meat processing plants, largely poultry and ham processing plants. The storage basin would have a 12-inch bentonite clay liner to seal the lagoon and would be completely fenced and have evergreen trees planted around the perimeter to help block the view and odor. Additional odor control, if needed, they said, could involve covering the lagoon with a synthetic liner, blowing hay on top of the lagoon, or having a misting system to contain and deodorize the air. The lagoon would be below grade. Pipkin said that the company did not anticipate using the entire lagoon capacity. The material would be stored on site for several months at time and then hauled and used for land application. “It’s the organic matter in the food residuals that gives the material value as a fertilizer... nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium,” said Pipkin. The company currently does not have a lagoon system; however, it maintains lagoons for chicken processing plants. The lagoon would be similar to lagoons that are located east of Columbia. The company constructed an enclosed storage tank in Macon about 10 years ago. During Tuesday’s public hearing, Shockey said he had talked with Pipkin earlier in the morning and relayed his comments about the company wanting to withdraw the application. “He really did sound concerned that they, as a company, not place this in a location that is going to be unsuitable,” Shockey said. “He indicated that they learned a lot from the meeting last night and that they appreciated the opportunity to appear and appreciated everyone’s attendance and participation.” Commissioner Douglas stated that existing ordinances regulate how land is used in the county. “A lot of counties don’t have that,” he said. “I think the company heard enough that they thought there would be counties better suited for them. There are easier places for them to do that.” Surrounding counties, such as Grundy and Linn, do not have county zoning. Shockey stated that the Livingston County has spent time carefully developing its zoning ordinances. “We have worked very hard over the last couple years to make amendments to the zoning order to try to balance the thing out so that we don’t completely trample on people’s private property rights while at the same time protect the community against somebody wanting to do something that is totally objectionable,” he said. Shockey confirmed that the company had received approval from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and that the specific plot of land on which the lagoon was proposed was near a floodplain area, but not actually located in a floodplain. Concerns raised Monday night by members of the public included potential contamination to drinking water, an underground river and an aquifer, as well as deterioration of the road and underground water lines due heavy truck traffic going to and from the site. Concerns of odor control and the potential of increased predators to the area were also raised as concerns.