East Grand Forks asphalt plant plans on hold until annexation is approved by state

The land on which RJ Zavoral & Sons plans to build a plant needs to be within city limits before the project can proceed.

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A water tower in East Grand Forks, Minn. (Grand Forks Herald photo)
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EAST GRAND FORKS – Until the annexation of 22 acres of farmland adjacent to East Grand Forks' border in Huntsville Township is approved by the state, RJ Zavoral & Sons will have to wait to apply to build an asphalt plant on the land.

The annexation, approved on Feb. 1 by the East Grand Forks City Council, now must go through the process of being published and submitted to the state. Also, copies of information would need to be sent to the township, along with the county.

City Planner Nancy Ellis said the land needs to be within the city limits before the company can move forward in the process.

“I told the Zavorals that we can’t accept any applications until it's officially within city limits. So at this point, I have no applications, I have no plat, I have nothing,” Ellis said.

If RJ Zavoral & Sons chooses to apply for an asphalt plant once the land is within city limits, the company will need to plat and receive a special use permit, both of which would require a public hearing. A notification would be sent out to adjacent property owners.


The Planning and Zoning Commission would hear the plans first while City Council would make the final decision on whether the company could build its asphalt plant on the land.

“Typically, we only have to do one public hearing and we do it at the Planning Commission, but I have a feeling that if in fact they do apply for the asphalt plant, we will probably hold more than one public hearing,” Ellis said.

Ellis said having a public hearing at the Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as at City Council, would give more people the opportunity to speak.

The land already has been zoned for industrial use; council members voted to adopt a long-range land-use plan in November. If RJ Zavoral & Sons decides not to apply for the asphalt plant to go on the annexed land, the property can still be used.

“They can sell it as city property and whoever purchases it could use it for something industrial in nature,” Ellis said.

City Administrator David Murphy said he has received two comments from residents who are against the annexation and asphalt plant. Residents who live near where the plant would be built have objected to the plan due to what they worry might be health concerns.

This isn’t the first time RJ Zavoral & Sons has tried to build a similar facility. Last year Polk County planners and officials rejected a proposal by the company that would have set up a temporary asphalt plant about a mile outside of East Grand Forks.

Opponents to those plans had worries that the plant would lower their property values, spread hazardous air pollutants and contaminate the Red Lake River.


In the case that the state does not approve the annexation, Ellis said the company would then need to go through the same process, through either the Huntsville Township or county.

Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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