Madison County is considering changes to its planning and zoning ordinance so local authorities have more control over natural gas liquids moved by pipeline through the county.
On Wednesday, the Madison County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on an ordinance requiring a conditional-use permit before construction or conversion of a pipeline for natural gas liquids.
The proposed ordinance is in response to Kinder Morgan’s plan to convert a natural gas pipeline to carry volatile natural gas liquids through the county.
Also under consideration is a proposed resolution to amend the county’s land use regulations that would require a conditional-use permit for the construction and operation of compressor stations for natural gas pipelines in the county.
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Madison County Judge-Executive Reagan Taylor said the draft ordinance and resolution are not meant to ban the transportation of natural gas liquids but to protect people and property values.
“We’re not trying to necessarily stop the compressor, because utilities are important to economic growth,” Taylor said. “We just want to protect our property values and protect our residents and make sure that the stipulations we require are something the gas company can achieve but at the same time doesn’t make it hard on the people who live around it.”
Kinder Morgan is the parent company of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which runs 256 miles through 18 Kentucky counties, from Greenup in the northeastern corner through Simpson on the Tennessee state line south of Bowling Green. The existing pipeline runs diagonally across Madison County.
In an application filed last year with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the company seeks to abandon a 964-mile section of line that runs from Natchitoches Parish, La., to Columbiana County, Ohio.
The natural gas line would be sold to Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline LLC or UMTP, a subsidiary of Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The subsidiary would convert the line for transportation of natural gas liquids instead of natural gas.
Natural gas liquids include ethane, propane and butane, and they are used by the agriculture, petrochemical and plastics industries.
If the pipeline is converted, the current south-to-north flow of product would be reversed so it would go north to south. Tennessee Gas Pipeline says the repurposing “represents an efficient use of existing infrastructure” because a new pipeline wouldn’t need to be built.
The line was put into service in 1944 during a wartime effort to bring badly needed natural gas from Louisiana to defense industries in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The age of the pipeline has residents concerned, Taylor said.
“If this wasn’t a 70-year-old pipeline, I don’t know how big of a fuss you would be getting,” Taylor said. “I mean you’re talking about running a different type of fuel through a line. The pressures are going to be different. It’s a little unnerving when it’s 70 years old.”
A draft of the proposed ordinance stipulates areas in which companies must comply when transporting hazardous liquids. Without compliance of these conditions, companies would not be granted a conditional-use permit by the Madison County Board of Adjustment.
For example, the applicant must demonstrate all measures “to assure compatibility” with surrounding land uses, including “noise and odor from above-ground pipeline operation and maintenance activities,” and “impacts on existing road and proposed roads and other infrastructure, including water and wastewater infrastructure.”
Applicants must also consider “proximity to industrial areas where manufacturing processes involve storage of flammable liquids or gases, toxic chemicals, explosives or other hazardous substances that could be compromised as a result of an accident.”
The proximity to schools, daycare facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and jails must also be addressed.
In addition, the proximity to “current or planned places of mass public assembly,” to “cultural, historic and natural resources of significance,” to “prime or significant farmland” and to residences must be addressed.
The draft ordinance also says the board of adjustment may also retain the services of a consultant familiar with the transportation of hazardous liquids by pipeline “to review and make recommendations concerning the adequacy of the measures proposed by the applicant.”
The draft ordinance is virtually identical to a similar ordinance approved earlier this year by Boyle Fiscal Court and the Danville City Commission. They were the first governments in Kentucky to adopt ordinances imposing a greater local control of hazardous liquids pipelines.
The draft resolution was written in response to plans for a new compressor station off Hackett Pike northeast of Richmond, Taylor said. The compressor station would boost the flow of the natural gas running through the pipeline now, Taylor said.
The resolution on the construction and operation of compressor stations says such units must include measures to lessen noise, control dust, minimize the risk of fuel or fluid spills, and provide setbacks from bodies of water to prevent contamination.
“You’re dealing with noise, you’re dealing with dust, you’re dealing with emissions, you’re dealing with prime farmland issues,” said Tom FitzGerald, the attorney for the Kentucky Resources Council who drafted the ordinance and resolution. “That’s why I think it is absolutely appropriate for local government to exercise its authority to assure compatibility of this proposed activity with surrounding land uses.”
The language of the ordinance and resolution could change, and Madison County Fiscal Court will have final approval of both.
“We just want to do the right thing for all parties involved, to make sure our community is protected,” Taylor said.
The Madison County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the fiscal court room of the Madison County Courthouse, 101 W. Main St., Richmond. Discussion will focus on a draft ordinance regarding hazardous liquids pipelines, and a resolution requiring a conditional-use permit for the construction and operation of a compressor station.