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Advisory group recommends approval of ReVenture plant

A group tasked with evaluating the impacts of a proposed waste-to-energy plant in western Mecklenburg County is recommending that the county’s Waste Management Advisory Board offer approval of the project to the county’s commissioners.

The ReVenture Advisory Council, which was formed by the WMAB, made the recommendation Tuesday.

The plant would be part of Charlotte-based Forsite Development’s ReVenture Park project. Forsite wants to the project to include a gasification incinerator that would use the county’s trash to make fuel, diverting about 340,000 tons of waste a year from local landfills.

While supportive of the plant, the RAC suggested requirements for the county to include in its negotiations with Forsite. Among the suggested requirements: that the gasification unit will operate under a minor source air permit for the life of the project. Such a permit would restrict the plant from emitting more than 100 tons of air pollutants.

“Everybody had concerns. Everybody had ‘what ifs,'” said RAC Chairman Brett Rhinehardt. “Everybody is concerned that, great, on day one it’s a nice project. It’s what it’s supposed to be. But five years from now, it becomes something different.”

The RAC also wants itself, or another group like it, to remain intact through the life of the project to monitor air emissions and operations at the plant. It also wants Forsite to name a third-party environmental group to study the surrounding ecosystem.

In addition, the RAC requested that Mecklenburg County be named a stakeholder in all permitting processes to ensure that the county be notified of all permit applications.

Similar to guarantees sometimes offered by communities across the county to homeowners who are near landfills, the RAC wants ReVenture to pledge to offer nearby homeowners financial compensation in case their homes lose value because of the plant.

While Rhinehardt described the recommendations from the RAC as “deal-breakers,” the group offered additional suggestions for the WMAB, including that no water be taken from or released into the Catawba River and that the tree canopy surrounding the river be protected.

The RAC, in a presentation Tuesday, said it has met 10 times over the past four months for a total of more than 30 hours of listening to experts and receiving presentations.

The WMAB will likely decide at a Feb. 15 meeting whether to recommend approval of the plant to the county commissioners.

Tara Ramsey can be reached at tara.ramsey@mecktimes.com.

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