Zoning approved for new ethanol plant near Vermillion

Zoning approved for new ethanol plant near Vermillion
Plans for a new ethanol plant for the Vermillion area are a step closer to reality.

The county planning commission, after hearing from both proponents of the plant and from local citizens, gave unanimous approval to changing the zoning of the facility's property from agricultural to industrial use.

"There must have been at least 60 people at the meeting, held in the basement of the courthouse," said Mike Keller, dean of the USD Business School who has been highly involved in helping to attract the ethanol plant here. "The presentation was made by Great Lakes Energy. That's the company that our local committee decided to partner up with to get an ethanol plant."

The hearing involved both lots of good questions and good answers, Keller said.

"I think the planning board felt that they got many compliments about the quality of the presentation and the ability of the presenters to answer all of the questions. It seemed like the sentiment of the crowd was pretty darned positive," he said.

The plot of ground that was rezoned can easily be seen by motorists on Highway 50. It's the site of what's commonly known as the old alfalfa plant, located west of Meckling.

If all goes as planned, the new plant could be operational by the spring of 2008.

The plant will be constructed thanks to the corporate merger of Glacial Lakes Energy (GLE), LLC and Missouri Valley Renewable Energy (MVRE).

Planners hope to begin constructing the facility by the spring of 2007.

Studies have shown that there is enough corn produced in the Vermillion area to justify the construction of a facility that produces 50 million gallons of ethanol annually.

Keller said the audience at Monday's hearing included a good contingency of ag producers, and a strong number of people who aren't directly involved in the agriculture industry.

Plenty of questions by citizens wanting to make sure of the proposed plant's impact.

"All of those questions were asked, " Keller said, on such topics water usage, air pollution, the chance of spills, and what would happen in case of a fire. Apparently the questions were answered completely and certainly favorably."

Planners will hold another meeting, tentatively scheduled later this month.

"Tentatively, on Aug. 24 at 4 p.m. at the high school, there is expected to be a presentation on the investment opportunity for the community," Keller said.

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