WKYT Investigates UPDATE | City: Permit or not, incinerator use still likely prohibited

Planning officials believe its use would run afoul of Lexington’s zoning ordinance.
The air curtain incinerator sits idle right now on C&R's property.
The air curtain incinerator sits idle right now on C&R's property.(WKYT)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 2:23 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Lexington business that has purchased an incinerator to use for wood waste could be facing more obstacles, even if the state approves its permit application.

City planning officials now say it is their interpretation of the zoning ordinance that use of an air curtain incinerator, like the one C&R Mulch hopes to use, would be prohibited at the company’s location off Old Frankfort Pike.

C&R Asphalt and Mulch is applying for a permit from the Kentucky Division for Air Quality in order to operate the burner, which is described as a “low-emissions alternative to the open burning of wood waste.” But the business’s prior use of the burner without a permit triggered dozens of complaints to council members and to state regulators - and, reportedly, a flood of public comments to the state ahead of Thursday’s public hearing on the issue - about haze, odor and ash coming from it.

[Related: WKYT Investigates | Lexington residents, businesses concerned over potential permit for incinerator]

A city spokesperson told WKYT Investigates that incinerators are expressly prohibited in all three of Lexington’s industrial zones (B-4, I-1 and I-2); the only place for an incinerator in Fayette County according to the zoning ordinance would be the EX1 zone at 4179 Hedger Lane, the construction landfill.

The zoning ordinance does not specifically refer to air curtain incinerators, but: “Without further guidance in the Zoning Ordinance, and without the common knowledge of what an air curtain is, the staff would say the use is prohibited,” city officials said when asked for clarification.

This interpretation of the zoning ordinance would be subject to appeal to the Board of Adjustment, they said.