Broin Companies may not conform to the county building code when it creates Ultimate Ethanol LLC, but it will heed the wishes of county officials.

On Tuesday, the Madison County Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved five variances for a proposed ethanol plant near Alexandria. Earlier in the day, the Madison County Planning Commission recommended that 253 acres in rural Monroe Township be rezoned from agricultural to general industrial to allow the creation of a $105 million facility.

The plant will not adhere to county guidelines for landscaping, street trees, sidewalks, buffer yard and height requirements. But BZA members made it clear that Broin will play by their rules.

Attorney Ron Fowler, representing residents Ron and Marcia Parker, said his clients are counting on landscaping to shield them from noise and light.

“This will destroy their property by undressing it,” Fowler said. “How much will it cost (Broin)? Maybe $8,000, $10,000 or $12,000? The Parkers stand to lose a quarter-million dollar piece of property.”

The BZA approved a variance of landscaping inside the site, but with a stipulation that significant wooded areas remain. It also approved relief of sidewalk requirements unless the area becomes significantly developed.

“If the area ever builds up, you are required to run sidewalks down to the corner,” said board member Bill Maxwell.

Broin asked the BZA to allow a buffer yard of 30 feet from the road. The board complied, but under the condition that Broin extend its berm — an earthen mound lined with trees — along County Road 100 East.

“I can live with the 30-foot spacing on the trees, but I would like you to extend the berm to the woods with the exception of the entrance,” board member William Hobbs said. “I’m not trying to hide your facility, but I don’t live out there and these people do.”

The BZA also approved relief of at least one street tree every 40 feet and extended its maximum height to 150 feet to accommodate a tower expected to rise 136.5 feet.

Last month, Broin withdrew three other requests for zoning variance.

Plans will now go to Madison County’s technical review committee. Rezoning is contingent on approval by the Madison County Board of Commissioners.

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