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Residents fed up with biodigester speak out at Bath Township Trustees meeting

Rob Hoffman, one of the candidates for Bath Township Trustee, speaking during the public comment period at Wednesday's meeting. Folding tables are arranged in a U shape and people are sitting at chairs spaced out around the tables. A man stands at a podium.
Alejandro Figueroa
/
WYSO
Rob Hoffman, one of the candidates for Bath Township Trustee, speaking during the public comment period at Wednesday's meeting.

The Bath Township Trustees met on Wednesday evening. It was the last township meeting before the upcoming November election. During the public comment period, several residents expressed criticism and disapproval over what they called mismanagement of a nearby biodigester.

Resident after resident spoke up to complain about the biodigester. People in the Township and nearby Fairborn have been complaining about foul odors, concern over possible groundwater contamination and road damage caused by heavy truck traffic on Herr Road for years.

The biodigester — which is owned by Ohio-based Renergy Inc. — is a series of machines and tanks that breaks down organic waste and produces some energy as a byproduct.

Two of the township trustee seats are up for re-election. One of those seats is held by Tom Pitstick, who leases part of his farm for the biodigester. Many residents like Gary Goldblatt said they are tired of fighting and the Trustees have done little to help resolve the issue.

“There's contentious issues at this point that you guys are unable to resolve. It's time to give someone else a chance. Please step aside,” Goldblatt said. “Let someone else go. I urge everybody, do your research. Don't just vote for people because you recognize their names on the ballot.”

Earlier this year, a Greene County Court of Common Pleas judge ruled that the Bath Township biodigester is a public utility, which exempts it from local zoning laws. At the meeting, trustees approved a resolution to hire Cleveland-based Haak Law LLC to appeal the judge's decision.

But Bradley Martin, a Fairbon resident who lives near the biodigester, said the resolution feels like it's pandering to voters before the November elections.

“This could have been addressed a lot sooner,” Martin said. “The timing of this just seems like a huge pander to get votes and nothing more.”

Residents have been fighting the biodigester for several years, at times organizing protests and bringing up concerns about the biodigester to the Trustees. Some said this year’s election will be the most contentious the township has seen in years.