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Local Residents Continue To Oppose Controversial Bath Township Biowaste Operation

Protestors rally in the parking lot of the Bath Township building.
Mawa Iqbal
/
WYSO
Protestors rally in the parking lot of the Bath Township building.

Dozens of people gathered at the Bath Township Trustee building in Fairborn Wednesday night to protest the controversial bio-waste operation on Herr Road owned by Central Ohio-based Renergy Inc. The protestors said they know their opposition will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Last week, Greene County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Buckwalter ruled that the Bath Township biodigester is a public utility, because it creates a small amount of green energy. That makes it exempt from local zoning rules, per Ohio state law. Township trustees said earlier this week in a Facebook post that they would filed a motion to appeal the decision.

Residents put a smaller thumb tack next to where they live if they say they smell the biodigester there. The big thumbtack is the Dovetail Biowaste Operation.
Mawa Iqbal
Residents do an impromptu charrette in the Bath Township building parking lot. Residents were asked to put a smaller thumb tack next to where they live if they say they smell the biodigester there. The big thumbtack is the Dovetail biowaste operation on Herr Road.

Nearby residents have complained about the smell coming from the operation for years. Some protestors said they were concerned this exemption could lead to an expansion of the operation. They're particularly concerned that two more lagoons could be constructed to hold the byproduct of the anaerobic digestion process. Renergy COO Cari Oberfield told the Dayton Daily News this week that the company does not currently have plans to construct more lagoons.

Luke Borntrager lives about 300 yards from the biodigester. He is also the class representative in a lawsuit filed in December 2020 against Renergy and Bath Township Trustee Tom Pitstick. The suit alleges the facility has deprived residents of the full use of their property and quality of life. The biodigester is housed on one of Trustee Pitstick's properties in the township.

Borntrager works at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and moved to his current home on Herr road in 2018. He said the smell from the facility sometimes forces his family indoors. He said that, in his opinion, the facility is an industrial operation, not a public utility, even though it does produce a small amount of biogas.

“I think they’re banking on that versus the real money maker of processing the waste and getting rid of the waste.”

Fairborn City Council member and local real estate agent Rob Hoffman announced he is running for a Bath Township trustee position in the fall. He is termed out as a council member and said that dozens of local residents asked him to run for trustee.

 Bath Township Trustee Candidate Rob Hoffman speaks to a crowd of protestors in front of the Bath Township Trustee Building
Mawa Iqbal
Bath Township Trustee candidate Rob Hoffman speaks to a crowd of protestors in front of the Bath Township Trustee Building.

He also said that, in his capacity as a real estate agent, he recently spoke to a family who decided not to move to the township because they heard about the facility’s smell.

Some of the protesting residents announced at the meeting that they are forming a nonprofit organization so that they could accept donations.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.