published Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Ethanol pipeline project in Hamilton County meeting more resistance

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    John Bridger, head of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Authority
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

An ethanol transfer facility proposed for an industrial park on Bonny Oaks Drive took another blow Monday -- this time from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

The commission voted 7-6 Monday not to recommend approval of a resolution that would amend the city's zoning code to permit a special use for ethanol facilities within light industrial zones.

Englewood Enterprises wants to develop a facility that would pump the biofuel from rail cars in the Bonny Oaks Industrial and Office Park through a pipeline to fuel distribution terminals on Jersey Pike. The proposed site for the facility is zoned by the city for light industrial, which does not allow for ethanol transfer.

The park, which was created by the county on county land, has special rules that require property owners to meet the city's zoning code.

On Aug. 23, the council asked staff at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency to draft an ordinance establishing a special exceptions permit for ethanol in light industrial zones.

"Clearly this is one that has been well deliberated," said John Bridger, executive director of the agency. "The City Council wanted to consider it further, and I think it's because it's a very broad issue."

Though the Planning Commission's rejection of the special permit can be influential, it is not binding on the City Council, which will decide next month whether to approve the creation of a special-use category.

"The City Council had recommended it," said Jack Benson, the council representative on the planning commission. "I think it very well could possibly pass at the city level."

Benson voted to recommend the amendment to the City Council.

Other planning commissioners, including developer Don Moon, said they could not support the measure. He said an ethanol transfer facility should be rezoned to heavy industrial.

Benson said he thinks the project could increase ethanol competition and reduce the number of tanker trucks on the road. But he wants to make sure the project doesn't violate agreements the county made years ago with industrial park property owners.

"I would not be a party to voting to break somebody's covenant," Benson said. "If they've got a covenant, that's enforceable by law."

If the City Council approves the amendment, Englewood Enterprises would have to apply for a special-use permit, which would also have to be approved by the planning agency and the council.

Once those steps are complete, the county must also consider whether to grant rights for Englewood to run the pipeline through a short section of county land.

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about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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nucanuck said...

Ethanol is not viable without federal subsidies that are likely to be repealed when/if Congress comes to it's senses. That eventuallity would likely place this company in BK. Local governments should stay away from anything to do with ethanol.

September 13, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.
delrod said...

Chattanooga should diversify its energy availability portfolio and this option will (Safely) accomplish, enhance and enable that ability. Ethanol is a staple and growing energy commodity. If it makes money, enhances the current infrastructure, and leads to more flexible options then all options should be considered.

September 13, 2011 at 4:49 p.m.
nucanuck said...

delrod, put your thinking cap on. Ethanol has no viable economic future. It requires to much energy to produce a like amount ethanol energy.

We shoud run, not walk, away from anything related to ethanol.

September 14, 2011 at 12:05 a.m.
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