Sussex commissioners tell council to deny recycling plants

Georgetown-area facility would convert poultry waste to electricity
July 14, 2017

Story Location:
22349 Georgetown Lewes Highway
Georgetown  Delaware
United States

Sussex County planning and zoning commissioners say the idea of recycling poultry manure is good for the environment, but the location for two proposed plants is not appropriate.

At its July 13 meeting, with a 4-0 vote, the commission recommended denial of two conditional-use applications filed by Clean Bay Renewables LLC for two electrical generation and nutrient recovery facilities proposed on two parcels totaling more than 50 acres off Route 9 east of Georgetown.

Commissioner Bob Wheatley, who had recused himself from the public hearing, did not vote.

Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson cited several reasons for denial including increased truck traffic and proximity to residences.

She said while some conditional-use applications have been approved in the area, they were for small businesses and not industrial uses as requested by Clean Bay Renewables. “None are as intensive as the type of use proposed for these applications,” she said.

The commissioner said the Sand Hill Road-Route 9 intersection – proposed as a possible route for trucks using the facility – is in need of an upgrade and is not suited to handle increased commercial traffic.

Hoey Stevenson noted that representatives of nearby Sussex Academy, CHEER Community Center and Sports at the Beach opposed the applications, and Town of Georgetown officials had concerns with increased truck traffic.

The applicant said a contractor would bring 12 tractor-trailers to the proposed facility six days a week.

“I think there are more appropriate locations for this type of use in Sussex County that will not impact so many residential properties, schools, sports facilities, senior centers or inferior roads,” she said.

Company officials have plans to build a facility on land where the old Georgetown harness track was located to accept poultry litter waste for processing and conversion to electricity at two identical plants. Both parcels are zoned AR-1, agricultural-residential.

The plants would process more than 200,000 tons of poultry waste generated each year in the county, said Thomas Spangler, owner and founder of the company.

Methane gas would be produced using an enclosed anaerobic digestive/fermentation process that would power generators to provide electricity to the grid.

Not all of the litter would be converted to methane gas; it would still be recycled through a nutrient recovery facility where the phosphorus and nitrogen would be separated into two products. A granular phosphorus product would be trucked to markets in the Midwest and West where phosphorus is in great demand. Leftover nitrogen would be turned into a soil product and sold to fertilizer companies.

Sussex County Council will have a public hearing on the applications at 1 p.m., Tuesday, July 18, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.