Essroc Cement’s Speed, Ind., plant will be allowed to continue operations with its current zoning after a Clark County Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously dismissed an appeal of an earlier administrative opinion, reported the News and Tribune. Essroc Cement Corp. will keep its heavy industrial zoning classification despite its plans to use waste-derived fuel to reduce emissions.

The planning and zoning department’s opinion was made last January – more than a year past the 30-day window to file for an appeal. Board attorney David Nachand also said it did not qualify as an administrative decision subject to appeal.

The county’s opinion last year came after Essroc Cement asked officials whether it needed to apply for a zoning change as part of its permitting process with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. That new zoning classification would be hazardous waste disposal district, created in the early 1990s to essentially keep the plant from burning tires.

A county document stated that the hazardous waste disposal district classification is meant for facilities “for the disposal, destruction or recycling of toxic chemicals, radioactive wastes, heavy metals, asbestos and other forms of hazardous waste ... through incineration” and other means.

The planning and zoning department along with other leaders including the Sellersburg Fire Department determined that the essence of Essroc Cement’s operations as a cement plant were not changing, just the fuel source. The plant intends to replace some of its coal consumption with the waste-derived fuel.

A permit to allow the company to burn the alternative fuel has yet to be issued.

“We agree with the county that responsibility for permitting cleaner burning alternative fuels rests with the experts at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management,” Plant Director Mike McHugh said in a statement. “We are excited about this project to lower air emissions while maintaining jobs and tax revenue for the community.”

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