published Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Ethanol facility and 'moonshine pipeline' moving forward in Hamilton County

by Cliff Hightower


The City Council will vote whether or not to rezone or issue a special-use permit for the proposed ethanol plant in Bonny Oaks industrial park on Oct. 18.

Developers of the "moonshine pipeline" -- a proposed ethanol facility in Bonny Oaks industrial park -- are going back to the Chattanooga City Council, which has deferred rezoning for the facility three times.

"They wanted action by the county, and that has been completed," said Mike Price, with MAP Engineers. Price has been representing Englewood Enterprises LLC, the company that hopes to build the ethanol pipeline.

But one councilman said he is still leery about the project.

"My constituents in the area don't want it to happen," said Councilman Russell Gilbert, who represents an area close to the park. "I still think it could open doors."

The council is expected to hear the case Oct. 18.

The County Commission voted 5-4 to authorize the sale of the industrial park's last vacant tract to Englewood Enterprises for $399,500. Now Englewood needs Chattanooga to grant a special-use permit for the ethanol project to go forward.

Price said the company is now interested in the special-exceptions permit and not rezoning.

On Monday, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency voted 7-6 not to recommend changing city code to create a special permit that would allow an ethanol pipeline in the light industrial zone.

Price said he did not see that as a defeat.

"Essentially, it came out as a 50/50 tie until the chairman broke the tie," he said.

Gilbert said he has opposed the ethanol pipeline all along. He's worried that allowing it would open the doors for other heavy industrial manufacturers in the park.

Price has said he does not think there would be any environmental concerns because state and federal guidelines are stringent.

Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said Friday her only concern is whether trains stopping to deliver the ethanol would back up traffic on Jersey Pike.

But for the most part, she said, her mind is clear because the county approved the sale of the land, which is in the county's industrial park.

"It's their property," she said. "It just happens to lie in the city."

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