Ethanol pipeline project in Hamilton County meeting more resistance

Ethanol pipeline project in Hamilton County meeting more resistance

September 13th, 2011 by Ansley Haman in News

John Bridger, head of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Authority

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Ethanol pipeline route

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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