Prosecutor sends ‘cease and desist’ letter to Renergy

By Anthony Conchel -

MOUNT GILEAD — The Morrow County Prosecutor’s Office sent a “cease and desist” letter last month to Emerald Bioenergy, LLC (Renergy) regarding its bio-digester facility in Westfield Township.

“The facility no longer qualifies for an agricultural exemption according to the Ohio EPA notice published in the Morrow County Sentinel on Sept. 19, 2018,” wrote Prosecutor Charles Howland.

Howland’s letter, dated Sept. 25, 2019, cites Ohio Revised Code Chapter 519 regarding the definition of agricultural usage. It also states the company “has 30 days upon receipt of the notice to cease and desist this violation.”

Howland maintains the bio-digester violates township zoning regulations. Residents voiced their displeasure over odor and noise from the digester at a meeting Feb. 5. Some in attendance also expressed concerns over possible groundwater contamination.

At that meeting, Howland made the point that the operation was no longer agricultural, for which the township is zoned, but now should be considered a commercial industrial site.

The letter further states: “…the facility is in violation of Westfield Township zoning regulations as a non-agricultural facility. Therefore, it must cease operations until such time as it may become permitted under state law as an agricultural facility.”

It also refers to land devoted exclusively to agricultural use” under ORC 5713.30, which establishes land definitions. “It requires at least 50 percent of the feedstock used in the production of biologically derived methane gas production to come from the land instead of being trucked in by an unending stream of commercial transport vehicles over township roadways.”

The letter also notes the operation changed names from Ringler Hog Farms to Ringler Energy, LLC to Emerald Bioenergy, LLC.

Renergy opened its facility in Westfield Township in September 2013. Community members have become increasingly upset with the spreading of biosolids on the property. They have used social media and written letters to county and state officials about the matter.

By Anthony Conchel

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