After a study completed by the Office of Planning and Design Services, a draft of regulations regarding methane plants within the county has been given the Louisville Metro Council.
The methane plants are bio-digester. A bio-digester is defined as a renewable energy system that uses controlled decomposition of biodegradable materials (e.g. outdated food from local groceries and yard waste) in oxygen-deprived environments using naturally occurring bacteria to convert the biodegradable materials into methane-rich biogas and a waste product, which is used as a fertilizer.
According to the proposed regulations, any plant will need to be a minimum of 1,320 feet away from a residential property, school, religious building, park, community center, hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility and at least 50 feet from a public right-of-way. Vehicles delivering feedstock, the biodegradable materials, shall not unload their cargo until they are fully enclosed in the receiving building and feedstock can only be stored in a fully enclosed building. All bio-digesters must also comply with noise ordinances, all local, state and federal laws regarding utility substations, safety, maintenance, health, and so on. Plants must also submit an emergency response plan and strategies for limiting odor that is generated from the decomposition. Natural methane is an odorless gas and it is produced in a variety of places throughout the world, including swamps and marsh lands.
There are currently three bio-digesters in the county: two of which are operated about Metropolitan Sewer District and the third is a private company. Any new proposed plants would need to seek a conditional use permit in industrial zones and the permit grants the applicant the ability to hold a public hearing. Conditional use permit holders must meet all requirements set forth in the regulations, and the Board of Zoning Adjustment must determine that there will be no adverse effects to neighboring properties before the permit is issued. However, plants that are strictly for agricultural use are exempt from zoning requirements, noise ordinances, odor mitigation, and emergency response plans per state law. A map of lands that are eligible for use is available on the City’s website.
The regulations are open for public comment, and if you missed one of the six meetings already, the final four meetings are coming up quick:
Written comments can be submitted to Brian Mabry via Brian.Mabry@louisvilleky.gov. All comments must be received by 12 PM on August 1st to considered during the evening public hearing.