Editor's note: This article was updated at 12:15 on May 21 with a statement from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.
Shingles, a tire and a portion of a radiator were among the items illegally burned on the site of the former Blanton-Crutcher farm on April 14, state officials allege.
According to a notice of violation, two previously burned piles were observed at 690 Duncan Road by the Division for Air Quality on April 15. The property, which is the subject of a controversial rezoning proposal, is near Interstate 64 at Versailles Road and Industrial Park #3.
The first burn pile contained various metals and an axle with at least one tire attached. The second burn pile contained various metals, brick, roofing shingles, painted wood and a portion of a radiator, according to the notice. All of those items are prohibited for open burning in Kentucky.
The Division for Air Quality through the state Department of Environmental Protection within the Energy and Environment Cabinet documented their observations and emailed the notice of violation to Tierney Storage LLC on April 16.
Ron Tierney, a Winchester developer, purchased 690 Duncan Road last summer. In the time since the purchase, Tierney demolished the property’s old farmhouse and requested to have the property rezoned from agricultural to industrial. Both actions have been met with criticism from surrounding property owners and historical preservationists.
On April 14, Tierney told The State Journal he started out burning old tree stumps but later added debris from the demolished farmhouse. He said he did not know he was burning potentially illegal substances until he was notified by the Franklin County Fire Department.
The fire department was dispatched to the property twice on April 14. On the second visit, firefighters observed black smoke, which indicates a petroleum-based product is present, FCFD Chief Kevin Hutcherson said.
Neighboring property owners told The State Journal the smoke caused nose, eye and lung irritation.
In the notice of violation, the Division for Air Quality implemented remedial measures ordering Tierney to cease open burning of prohibited items and to not burn prohibited items in the future. Tierney was also instructed to respond to the notice, read a brochure on Kentucky’s open burning regulations then collect all the unburned waste and scrap in the burn area and dispose of the waste properly.
Tierney was asked to document how the waste is disposed of and submit the written response and documentation to the Division for Air Quality’s Frankfort Regional Office within 30 days. Those 30 days expired on Monday.
According to the notice of violation, “compliance with remedial measures and the deadlines does not provide exemption from liability for violations during the period of remediation, nor prevent additional remedial measures from being required.”
Tierney could be fined up to $25,000 per day per violation depending on the violation.
On Wednesday, Tierney told The State Journal he finished disposing of the items like the Division of Air Quality requested on May 12.
"It was all done according to what they asked me to do," he said.
As for whether he will be fined, Tierney said, "That has not been determined."
"It was about a 30-minute burn, so I don't think there's too much there," he added.
Tierney said he had permission to burn wood, but he learned there's a difference between natural wood and processed wood.
"We put it out immediately when we found out that they didn't want that burnt," he said.
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet provided this statement to The State Journal on Thursday:
"Secretary (Rebecca) Goodman and Gov. (Andy) Beshear are committed to the values of promoting economic development and environmental health for all Kentuckians. The NOV issued to Tierney Storage required it to collect all unburned wastes and scrap in the burn area and dispose of the waste properly, document how the waste is disposed of and take photographs of the cleaned area for documentation.
"It was required to submit a written response, containing photographic documentation of proper waste disposal, to the Cabinet within 30 days of receipt of the NOV and it has done so. The NOV will be referred to the Division of Enforcement, which will decide if a civil penalty is to be applied."
Tierney’s property is on the National Register of Historic Places and, according to the application for that status, the house was first built in 1796 by Carter Blanton. The farmhouse underwent several renovations over the 180 years it was occupied and active.
In February, the Frankfort-Franklin County Planning Commission voted 5-2 to recommend the property be rezoned to industrial.
The Franklin County Fiscal Court held a first reading of the rezoning ordinance on April 30.
During that meeting, a majority of the court voted to hold a public hearing on June 9 before the second reading.
The public hearing will be in Courtroom B at the Franklin County Courthouse and will begin at 5 p.m.