West Louisville residents hope neighborhood plan from 1983 stops - WDRB 41 Louisville News

West Louisville residents hope neighborhood plan from 1983 stops proposed methane project

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Indiana-based STAR BioEnergy wants approval to build a multi-million dollar methane plant at 17th and Maple Streets in west Louisville.

But some think a plan that's almost 33 years old could get in the way.

"I don't think it's right. I know it's not right." said Carolynn Ferrell, who lives near the Heaven Hill Distilleries. Her family has rented a home across the street for five years.

She says if the methane plant is approved, they will be forced to move.

"I know it's not gonna be safe. That can't be safe, we've got babies. I've got grandkids here. you know. There's kids in the neighborhood, where are they gonna go?"

Another big issue for residents is the close proximity. In fact, some nearby renters say that they are less than 200 feet from the proposed site, and they’re worried about the smell and a possible explosion.

"There are many reasons to be against it," said Louisville Metro Councilman David James, who represents District 6.

His constituents say their neighborhood is under attack, and the biodigesters that are planned for the area are 125 feet from someone’s front porch.

"I've not had a single person whose door I knocked on tell me they support it," James said.

James says a methane plant does not fit in the California Neighborhood Plan, which was approved back in 1983.

"Do not allow new non-residential uses in this area unless they will be located in existing commercial or industrial structures," said James, reading from the resolution.

James says planners told him there would be no odor and that he should visit a similar site more than 250 miles away.

"They recommended that I go to Haviland, Ohio. I drove four hours up there, and it was the worst smell I've smelled in a long long time," James said.

STAR's Louisville attorney Brian Zoeller told the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BOZA) that there are no chemicals in the distilled waste and the project is safe.

"At the site now, it's a natural process. I'm happy to stick my finger in it and take a taste," he said. "It may not taste great, but it's perfectly healthy.

During a packed 8-hour meeting Monday night, more than 30 residents asked the permit be denied.

"We have said 'no' from the beginning," one woman said. "Not in the neighborhood ... we don't want it."

"I do not want this in my community,” said another resident. “I don't not want this in your community."

It's still not clear if the California plan from the 1980s is legally binding because James says, for some reason, it was never added to Louisville Metro’s 2020 plan.

BOZA is set to vote on the permit on Jan. 21 following another neighborhood meeting that hasn’t yet been set.

Related:

Proposed methane plant in west Louisville draws strong debate at community meeting

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