Louisville Metro Council Democrats Look To Launch Study, Moratorium On Future Methane Plants

Feb 15, 2016

Credit J. Tyler Franklin

Three Democratic Louisville Metro Council Democrats are sponsoring a measure effectively banning development of anaerobic digestion facilities — or methane gas plants — for at least six months.

Backing the ordinance are council members David James of District 6, Barbara Shanklin of District 2 and Mary Woolridge of District 3. It’s set to be discussed in the council’s land development committee at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Their aversion to development of such facilities stems from a months-long fight that erupted last year in response to plans for developing a methane gas plant in a densely populated residential area of the California neighborhood.

Opponents lashed out against the proposal was unfair, saying western Louisville already has a high concentration of chemical and gas plants. During multiple community meetings on the proposal, neighbors expressed concerns about issues ranging from odors to traffic from heavy vehicles.

Development plans were ultimately scrapped after staunch resistance from residents.

The plant would have converted organic waste into methane gas. James said the conversion process yields a pungent odor and potential negative environmental impacts on surrounding areas.

James visited a similar plant in Ohio and said the stench from such facilities is not fit for residential areas.

“The thought of putting that horrendous smell 125 feet from somebody’s front door is unconscionable,” he said.

He said the ordinance calls on the city’s nine-member Planning Commission to conduct a study aiming to determine the most suitable location for methane gas plants.

The city lacks regulations dictating where such facilities should be located in terms of having the lowest impact on residents’ quality of life, James said.

“We should have some rules about that,” he said.

If the ordinance passes through committee and gains final approval from the full council, the planning commission study will develop a set of standards governing the future development of methane gas plants, James said.

No permits for methane gas plant developments will be issued as the study is underway, according to the ordinance.

“We’re not here to try to impeded business,” James said. “We’re here to try to make sure business and citizens can coexist.”

James said he supports the progressive technology the methane gas plants promote, but at issue is where those plants will operate.

Mayor Greg Fischer, who initially supported the development of the methane gas plant at its original location at 17th and Maple streets in the California neighborhood, could not be immediately reached for comment regarding the proposed ordinance.