LOCAL VOICES: Landfill methane power yes, zoning issue no

By ROBERT WHEELER Milan resident and campaigner against landfill gas zoning iss
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

By ROBERT WHEELER

Milan resident and campaigner against landfill gas zoning issue

In reply to the editorial in the Sandusky Register, I can see we did not make the issue clear. The issue was not, should the zoning change be allowed to allow a methane to electric conversion generator, it was, change the zoning to give the land to Bio-Gas for $1, spend up to $100,000 of Erie County money to run a gas line under Hoover Road, and steal six jobs from Huron County.

There were three scenarios:

Zoning change is approved. County spends up to $100,000 of Erie County money to run a gas line under Hoover Road, and do a land transfer for $1. Net result? Bio-Gas builds a nice facility and moves six jobs from Huron County. Electricity generated. Taxpayers lose. No new jobs created. Bio-Gas make a lot of money for the carbon conversion credits. (Milan township zoning plan is compromised.)

Zoning change is denied. Bio-Gas said many times that if the zoning does not receive approval by the referendum, they will place the generator inside the fence and stay at the Huron county airport location. Net result? Methane generator goes on landfill. Electricity generated. $100,000 dollars of Erie County money is not spent. No new jobs created.

Zoning change is denied. Bio-Gas decides to follow zoning and gets great deal from Jones Farms (Chef's Garden, Veggie U) to put Bio-Gas facility and Methane to electricity generator on correctly zoned land. Heat and electricity from the generator powers greenhouses and we create agriculture jobs and produce food. Net result? Zoning intact. Electricity created. Many more jobs created. Everybody wins. Stunning display of ingenuity and a showcase for Erie County to be proud of.

Imagine that! Waste methane powering high tech greenhouses and making food. But, that didn't happen. Negotiations broke down.

That leaves scenario 1 or 2. I thought scenario 2 was the best for Milan Township and Erie County. When the letter from Jim and Gloria Hiendlmayr arrived in the post, obfuscating the issue, that's when I sent e-mails and went door to door for two days.

An example of the confusion:

I stood for 13 hours at the voting precinct with flyers and signs. One man, an older farmer, finished voting and drove up by me standing on the median, rolled down his window and (paraphrased) said: "I don't know who you are but why the hell... oh it's you ... Robert Wheeler ... why are you against the methane project?" I said, "I'm not. I'm for the methane project." "Then why are you against it on the landfill?" "I'm not. I'm all for it on the landfill."

He looked at me as though I was from Mars...

In essence, Milan Township voters never heard the details or opportunities that were present. Partly due to a complete lack of understanding, vision or willingness to listen on the part of Bill Monaghan, he refused several requests to sit down one-on-one to explain our vision and requirements and intentions. He chose instead to take the word of Jack Meyers and Jim Hiendlmayr about what our intentions were. Both men had agendas of their own that our involvement didn't allow them to maintain complete control and partly due to disinformation that the Hiendlmayr's portrayed in Register articles and in the letter just prior to the election.

I'll repeat myself, Jim Hiendlmayr said many times that if the zoning did not receive approval by the referendum, they would place the generator inside the fence and stay at the Huron county airport location.

Just to set the record straight, I am not employed by Jones farms (Chef's Garden or Veggie U) nor have I ever been employed by Jones Farms nor do I plan to be employed by Jones Farms in the future. I am a concerned citizen, trying to do what is best for my community. I met Bob Jones Jr. at the Mickey Rooney function years ago, we became reacquainted at the zoning meetings.