Initial approval has been given to an ordinance provision that requires every request to build a biosolids storage facility in Bartholomew County to be sent to the Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).

Monday’s unanimous first-reading approval by the Bartholomew County commissioners requires an applicant to receive a conditional use permit from the BZA to build such a facility.

If final approval of the provision is made next month, the permit will only be issued after a public hearing is conducted to allow neighbors and others to express their concerns or support.

The commissioners say they’ve heard from several constituents who feel they have no say about the application of biosolids as fertilizer because the practice falls under IDEM’s jurisdiction.

“It will not be handled through internal workings, as it has been in the past,” Commissioner Tony London said. “And the (applications) will be judged by the four BZA standards used to judge everything.”

As summarized by City-County Director of Planning Jeff Bergman, the four standards include a requirement that the applicant comply with all other regulations, refrain from creating public health and safety problems, have no impact on the use of surrounding properties and remain generally consistent with the Bartholomew County Comprehensive Plan.

The provision regarding biosolids storage facilities was created after Evan Daily of Biocycle LLC applied for a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to accept dewatered biosolids for blending and use on farmland.

More than 100 residents have expressed concerns ranging from possible adverse environmental effects of the sewage-sludge to the impact of unpleasant smells that could spread to nearby properties.

IDEM personnel say they expect to make a decision on Daily’s request around June 1 at the earliest.

Although the Bartholomew County Plan Commission voted to recommend the provision, the commissioners have the authority to request alterations to the ordinance.

“Any changes we might make will go back to the plan commission,’ commissioners Chairman Larry Kleinhenz said. “It’s usually on a second reading that we have anything to add.”

At this time, the second and final reading is scheduled by the county commissioners is scheduled for May 13.

In the ordinance, a biosolids storage facility is defined as an area of land or structure(s) used for the storage of biosolids (the organic materials resulting from the treatment of human sewage at a sewage treatment plant) until those biosolids may be delivered to and land-applied at locations off-site from the storage facility.

In the ordinance, the term excludes the on-site staging and/or stockpiling of biosolids for application on the property on which the staging or stockpiling occurs.

The provision is a small part of a proposed 20-page ordinance intended to provide clarifications and avoid multiple interpretations without actually changing existing local laws, Bergman said. While the Columbus Plan Commission asked for requirements that electric car chargers be placed in multi-family developments and lodgings, Bergman said the Bartholomew County Plan Commission decided not to recommend that county government do the same.
© 2024 The Republic