LOWVILLE Lowville town officials had a hard time digesting the notion of a manure and food-waste digester facility here.
The Town Council voted 4-0 Thursday not to undertake a zoning change for a property off Markowski Road that would be needed for CH4 Biogas, Atlantic Beach, Fla., to build a proposed $15 million to $17 million digester facility on the site. Councilman Stephan M. Zubrzycki abstained, saying he did not have enough information on the matter.
Its now a moot issue, as far as were concerned, town Supervisor Randall A. Schell said after the vote was taken.
While on-farm manure biodigesters have been in service for many years, town officials appeared wary of approving an off-farm, hybrid one that uses both manure and food waste, given the dearth of them in the region.
The move pleased several neighbors of the proposed facility, a few of whom spoke against the plan.
A biodigester on the site will likely decrease the value of our surrounding properties, Christine D. Mealus said.
She suggested that the location would be better suited for housing or other business development, not industrial.
Mrs. Mealus also expressed concerns about potential odors, the supposed fire risk at such a plant, some additional truck traffic and the potential for the developer to pay relatively little in property taxes.
CH4 for the past couple of years has been looking to site a facility in the Lowville area and recently secured a purchase option on land between Route 12 and Markowski Road.
The company was proposing to build a facility with two digesters that would convert manure and food waste most of it piped from the Kraft Foods cream cheese plant on Utica Boulevard into methane gas. The gas then would be piped back to Kraft and burned on site for heat and low-cost electricity at the plant, while the processed waste would be returned to the dozen or so participating farms.
However, town zoning law has no provision for such a facility.
Town officials have been working on a draft law to regulate digester facilities, and council members on Thursday decided to send that proposed legislation to the Lewis County Planning Board for review by a 4-1 vote, with Councilwoman Ruth I. Laribee voting no because she hadnt had a chance to read it through.
This is the latest effort to identify digesters large or small and where they would be located in the town of Lowville, Mr. Schell said.
However, that law, if passed following a public hearing, still would restrict biodigester facilities to agricultural zones, while the site being eyed by CH4 is zoned residential.
That led to the request for a change in zoning on that parcel.
Mr. Schell said he wanted his board to make a decision on the project site now for the sake of CH4 officials.
Its not fair to just keep them hanging on, he said.
CH4 last year completed a hybrid digester on a large farm in Wyoming County, and a contingent of 21 local residents including Mr. Schell and Mrs. Mealus a few weeks ago took a bus trip to the Western New York facility.
A three-person contingent from the neighboring town of Martinsburg also went, as the proposed digester site is near the town line and possibly could be moved into that town.
Martinsburg Supervisor Terry J. Thisse could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The Town Council on Thursday also authorized town engineer Stephen J. Olmstead to work with the town of Watson to develop a preliminary engineering report on a potential joint water project for submission to federal and state funding agencies at an estimated cost of about $3,000, and approved 2013 water and sewer rates that are the same as this years.