Plant's water issues raise zoning concerns

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New water requirements for Altra Indiana LLC Ethanol Plant in Cloverdale spouted concerns during the county Board of Zoning Appeals Monday meeting.

Rich Goudie and Loren Francis from Altra Indiana LLC Ethanol Plant informed the board during the meeting about an update of the plant's well sites and modify the zoning requirements for these sites.

Goudie said the plant was originally looking to purchase water for the facility from the Cloverdale and Reelsville water companies, but found that both water companies did not have adequate amounts to supply the plant.

"We're looking into going into private land ownership," Goudie said.

Accompanying Goudie and Francis was James Nowacki, a licensed professional geologist, who assisted both Reelsville and Brazil with their water companies.

He provided the board with a report about drawing from three well sites south of Reelsville and downstream of Big Walnut Creek that would not effect Reelsville and Brazil's water supplies.

Board member Brian Gilmartin told Nowacki that he was concerned that the report did not mention if there would be any adverse effects on the availability of water for other users in the area.

"We will not be drawing the aquifer down to zero. So yes, there will be water in the aquifer for somebody else," Nowacki said.

Nowacki noted that there were houses near both Reelsville and Brazil's well fields. So like both towns, the plant's well fields would not effect any other users of that aquifer.

County planner Kim Hyten mentioned an Indiana law that states if a homeowner's well goes dry and if he or she can prove that a company's well fields drained that well, it is the company's responsibility to replace that well.

Board vice president Larry Jones asked Nowacki how he was going to measure to determine how much water is in the aquifer so Altra Indiana LLC does not suck it dry. Nowacki said a pump test will be performed to determine the aquifer's amount of water yield.

The board also wondered how many gallons per day the plant will be drawing out of the well fields. According to Goudie, the plant could draw 1.3 million gallons of water per day, with a maximum draw of 2.0 to 2.5 million gallons.

Gilmartin said that he wanted to see an addendum to the report that shows that the aquifer can draw 2.5 million gallons per day.

The board decided to go ahead and advertise for the zoning variance, and would have Altra Indiana LLC provide additional documentation.

In other business, the board:

-- Learned about a resident's concern with the stockyard being built in Morton on U.S. 36. Hyten said the stockyard would mainly be used for the sale of cattle. There is still some paperwork that needs to be completed. The board will consider that February.

-- Tabled a variance request by South Putnam schools for a communication tower until the February meeting. The board also tabled a special exception variance requested for property on County Road 825 East and Ind. 236

-- Approved a development standard variance for property located in Marion Township. The owner wished to reduce her property from 10 acres to 7.8 acres to sell the parcel to friends. The board informed the owner her next step was to take her request to the commissioners.

-- Learned that the current owner of a boat repair shop outside the Heritage Lake area is working on cleaning up the land and is complying with the board's wishes. The board did inform the owner that he could only store boats inside the structure.

The board meets regularly every second Monday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Courthouse Annex.

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