Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Council rezones old sewage-treatment plant to pave way for sale, perhaps to grease recycler

By Mark Wetherington
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council voted last night to zone as industrial the city’s old wastewater treatment plant, which has been proposed as a site for recycling waste oil and grease from Bluegrass restaurants.

The 2-acre tract was rezoned I-2, or Heavy Industrial. It had been zoned in three separate parcels as A-1 (Agricultural), CO-1 (Conservation) and I-1 (Light Industrial). Rezoning the land as I-2 was recommended by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission.

The city had accepted bids for the property last year and received one bid, from Mike Thornton of Martin’s Sanitation Service, but zoning and surveying issues prevented the bid from being accepted. The property has now been consolidated and rezoned, and surveying revealed that it is a slightly larger parcel than was previously estimated.

“Because the property size has changed, there will have to be a new bid,” Council Member Sharon Turner said after the meeting.

Thornton in a telephone interview Tuesday morning, “I would assume we would still be interested, unless there is a conditional use on it that we can’t meet.” He said that if he purchases the property he intends to use it to process the waste he collects. The solid waste would be separated and sent to a landfill, while the wastewater would be processed by the Midway Wastewater Treatment Plant and a per-gallon fee charged.

Turner noted, “Treating the wastewater will create a revenue stream for Midway.”

Thornton also said that he is planning to eventually use the property as a location for processing used restaurant grease into an alternative energy source.

Although the council voted unanimously to approve the rezoning ordinance, there was some skepticism. Maralyn Burstein, who voiced her opposition to the rezoning at the preceding council meeting, said the rezoning could have negative effects. “There aren’t any restrictions that would prevent it from being used in a harmful way in the future,” she said in an interview.

Other business

The council gave first reading to an ordinance to establish the City of Midway as a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. Final passage would bring Midway into compliance with the federal drug-free workplace policy and will help reduce worker’s compensation insurance premiums, city officials said.

David Collins of the C.I. Thornburg Co. spoke to the council about equipment that would allow Midway’s water meters to be accurately and quickly read through radio frequencies. Radio meter readers are cost-effective and eliminate many of the problems associated with traditional meters, Collins said. The city recently had a problem with meter readings.

Laura Dake and Gale Reece of ITN Bluegrass told the council that their group, a local affiliate of a national non-profit organization that provides transportation to senior citizens, is interested in expanding from Fayette County to Midway and other outlying towns. ITN Bluegrass is funded by membership fees and fares, as well as through local support such as volunteer drivers, car donations and local grants.

Helen Rentch, a Midway citizen who introduced Dake and Reece to the council, said there is a growing need for a transportation service for senior citizens in Midway, and “We don’t have taxis.”

Dake and Reece said providing transportation services to seniors allows them to stay in their home after they no longer feel safe behind the wheel. Rather than entering a nursing home or assisted-living facility, they can remain at home and safely travel by using the service provided by ITN Bluegrass.

The next meeting of the Midway city council is scheduled for Monday, November 2, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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