The updated plans for the west Louisville anaerobic digester. | Courtesy of STAR BioEnergy
The updated plans for the west Louisville anaerobic digester. | Courtesy of STAR BioEnergy

Ahead of the Board of Zoning Adjustment meeting Monday, Mayor Greg Fischer sent out a statement outlining guidelines that STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill Distilleries have agreed to comply with should the proposed anaerobic digester project move forward.

STAR BioEnergy needs approval for a conditional use permit from the zoning board to build the digester at 17th and Maple streets in west Louisville’s California neighborhood. The digester would turn stillage from Heaven Hill and other organic liquid waste into methane gas, which can then be sold.

The project has garnered much pushback from residents of west Louisville, which STAR BioEnergy CEO Steve Estes said prompted the company to alter its original plans for the digester.

Mayoral spokesman Chris Poynter said that after hearing feedback from concerned citizens, the mayor has asked that STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill agree to three binding elements. The mayor also asked the zoning board to attach these provisions to the conditional use permit should the board members approve the permit.

“It’s been in the works for the past week or so as we heard community concerns,” Poynter told Insider Louisville. “We thought it would be good to get those in writing and get it on the record when they have the hearing on Monday.”

The binding elements are as follows:

  1. STAR BioEnergy must inspect its odor control equipment at least once a month and send quarterly reports to Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District and Louisville Metro Planning and Design Services documenting the maintenance and inspection. If the equipment is not working properly, STAR BioEnergy will have 10 days to repair or replace the equipment. Otherwise, it must stop all operations.
  2. Trucks delivering organic materials must park inside the receiving building and wait until all exterior doors are closed and the internal air systems are running before off-loading any materials
  3. Feedstock and filtering chemicals cannot be stored outside.

STAR BioEnergy and Heaven Hill already have agreed to comply with these regulations.

“This ties back to what I have been trying to articulate — we are listening,” Estes told IL. “Mayor Fischer wants what is right for the community and this is part of that. This is part of addressing the concerns of different stakeholders.”

The company planned to be a good neighbor from the get-go, Estes said, including ensuring that the digester does not stink or otherwise impact the quality of life of nearby residents.

Binding elements or not, “we would have still kept our word,” Estes said.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]