Commissioners approved to rezone property for heavy industrial use

The Spencer County Journal-Democrat ~ August 8, 2013

By: Stuart Cassidy

A fertilizer plant proposed by Ohio Valley Resources ebbed closer to becoming a reality.  Based on a recommendation from the county plan commission, commissioners approved to rezone property for heavy industrial use. 

Backers of Ohio Valley Resources' fertilizer-manufacturing facility and some landowners petitioned to reclassify more than 290 acres near U.S. 231, between County Roads 350 and 400 N., much of which is currently zoned for business and residential.  The company has options to purchase land from six owners.

Last month, the plan commission heard requests from OVR representatives who presented information about the company and its products.

Several residents, including Rollie Kelly and Mike Cochenour voiced strong objections to the plan commission.

Kelly and Cochenour were both in attendance Tuesday to express their concerns to county commissioners.

After a plea from Kelly for commissioners to take a closer look at public-safety issues he felt were "detrimental to life and health," the neighboring landowner said "I don't really disapprove of a plant being built in the county," but asked that they at least require a buffer zone for those who live nearby.

Cochenour who was brief in his statements, told commissioners the plant would render his property useless and asked them to promote "responsible development" and disapprove of the rezoning.

Also present to discuss the plant was OVR President Doug Wilson, who told commissioners air permits for the project had been approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and could be finalized by the federal Environmental Protection Agency by mid-September. 

Several questions about safety precautions were directed to OVR consultant Scott Pierce, who has served as a manager of maintenance and operations in fertilizer facilities for more than 20 years.

According to Pierce, production of urea-ammonium-nitrate and anhydrous-ammonia solutions are relatively safe, non-volatile and non-corrosive, generated in a "very sophisticated facility that has to follow the guidelines of process-safety management," equipped with risk-management plans.  He said in his nearly 35 years in the industry he has never witnessed a major spill that affected neighboring properties.

"The facilities are good neighbors," Pierce said.  "Every one of them that I have worked at, we've had community-advisory panels, in which we invite neighbors, we invite members of the local political establishment and employees...who meet monthly.

"It's more of and educational thing because people fear something they are not familiar with."

After discussion, commissioner Mickey Toler said he could understand the residents' concerns because he too owns property near the location.  But taking in consideration what benefits the county most, he believed they commissioners should approve the rezoning.  His motion passed by a 3-0 vote.