Council says Journeyman Distillery must take waste to another location for processing

Journeyman Distillery will have to take the waste from the distilling process to another facility for disposal. // WSBT 22

A southwest Michigan distillery can continue operating.

But it will have to take the waste from the distilling process to another facility for disposal.

The Village of Three Oaks had threatened to shut down the distilling process at Journeyman Distillery after concerns its waste was damaging the sewage department's system.

There was a lot of discussion at Wednesday's council meeting.

But the end result is business can continue here at Journeyman Distillery for now.

The village had issued a cease and desist order against the business, claiming the distillery's waste has a chemical by-product that's 20 times higher than the village allows.

The two sides agreed to have that waste be hauled away to another location for processing.

The distillery and village will now spend the next 90 days searching for a permanent solution.

Distillery owner Bill Welter says this temporary decision will be costly, but it's necessary to solve the issues at the sewer department lagoons and save his business.

Welter did ask for a two to four week grace period to begin hauling away his waste.

The council gave him two weeks or they will shut down the distilling operation.

Welter says the future of his business depends on what happens in the next 90 days.

“If they say look we are not going invest in the sewage and sanitation system then Journeyman needs to stand there and say well how are we going to move forward as a business. But at least at that point in time we finally know, look they're not going to do anything to the sewage and sanitation system,” said Welter.

“They are our only major industrial user that goes into our sewer system versus every other residential or light commercial business in town. So the quality of their loading that goes in, even though it's only about 5-percent of the total loading that goes in, it has a tremendous effect on our system,” said Mike Greene, village manager.

Many in the crowd Wednesday were booing the council and it quickly turned into a shouting match.

Many said think the village is setting the distillery up for failure.

As for what could be the permanent solution, both Welter and the village say they hope they can invest in the sewage system so this will not be an issue in the future.

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