WKYT Investigates UPDATE | Lexington business withdrawals application for incinerator permit

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – A Lexington mulch company has withdrawn its controversial permit application to use an incinerator on its property, WKYT Investigates has confirmed.

C&R Asphalt and Mulch faced a groundswell of opposition to its plans.

The business had applied for a permit from the Kentucky Division for Air Quality in order to operate an air curtain incinerator, 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 a scheduled hearing – about haze, odor and ash coming from it .

“We’re glad they withdrew, as it was inappropriate to have that kind of operation so close to where children are active,” Lane Boldman, a board member with the Cardinal Valley Neighborhood Association, said in a text message Monday afternoon. “If the company still wishes to incinerate their wood in the future we hope it will be in a more appropriate location with proper permits.”

In addition to public backlash, the company faced further obstacles when city planning officials told WKYT’s Garrett Wymer that it was their interpretation of the zoning ordinance that use of an air curtain incinerator would be prohibited at the company’s location off of Old Frankfort Pike.

Related coverage via WKYT Investigates:

  • Lexington residents, businesses concerned over potential permit for incinerators
  • City: Permit or not, incinerator use still likely prohibit

“I’m glad that C&R listened to the community and withdrew their application for a state permit,” said 11th District Council Member Jennifer Reynolds, whose district includes several of the concerned neighborhoods. “We will be watching closely and keeping tabs on the situation in case things change in the future.”

In response to a request for comment, C&R Owner Steve Coleman said he conducted a lot of research about the air curtain burner and the benefits of biochar and “never dreamed there would be any opposition” to the unit or the process. He said he is confident that the company could have kept fighting and gotten the permit.

“Perception can be a big part of your reputation in business and C&R Asphalt has spent 29 years building and maintaining an excellent reputation here in Central Kentucky,” Coleman said in an email. “Risking that negative perception on our reputation simply was not worth it given biochar would have been such a minute addition to all of C&R’s services. Therefore, we opted to pull all permits and permit applications involving the air curtain burner and intend to sell it.”

A virtual public hearing scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled.