Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Residents raise stink over manure digester
  CELINA - Several residents on Monday spoke out against a proposed private manure/algae digester planned for city land.
During a packed city council meeting, Janis Tindall read a written statement and said she had 500 signatures from concerned residents in the southwest part of town.
"As manure comes to Celina, so does smell, traffic, noise, plus methane gas and other toxic by-products," she read.
Tindall said the decision could have a long-range negative impact on Celina and its residents and could jeopardize property values, safety and overall living quality.
"We respectfully request that you take no action until the use of this technology has been proven," she said. "A number of companies are working on manure digesters with federal funding, but additional research is necessary before an educated decision can be made on a project of this magnitude. With more information, the citizens can decide if they want a manure digester in their back yard."
Optional Energy Partners of Florida wants to construct a manure/algae digester on 60 acres of land along Meyer Road the city intends to purchase for the creation of the Celina Renewable Energy Center. On Monday, the city approved first reading of the land purchase and already has agreed to purchase the power from Optional Energy Partners.
Discussions have been ongoing for several months, but detractors just started showing up at recent council meetings.
Susan Rausch said she has lived on the west side of town for 41 years. Properties there already sell for less - anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 - than the east side of town, she said.
"Let's put it on the east side of town," she said.
Tom Fleck, who had spoken out at a past meeting, provided council members with an article revealing drawbacks of digesters. He asked them to read up before the next meeting.
"Please look at this. Dig into it further," he said to council.
Nancy Wheeler also said she is against the idea.
"This project sounds like the blue goose (former failed city power plant) on steroids," she said.
Doug Giesige once again told of his trip to the Hooley Digester at the Port of Tillamook Bay, Oregon, where he said there was no smell except in one spot.
"Everything is enclosed," he said, adding manure digesters don't use cutting edge technology.
Giesige - the only resident supporting the digester at the meeting - said he lives close to a grain mill that releases smells and believes odors are a part of living in small towns.
Council president Jason King eventually cut off the discussion and asked residents not to piggyback on questions already asked.
The public will have another chance to express its views at a special council meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at council chambers in city hall.
Celina Planning and Community Development Director Kent Bryan - who pointed out that he recently met with some of the neighbors for more than three hours - told council he will give an overview of the project and its ultimate goals of cleaning up the lake and the city's drinking water.
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