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East Grand Forks City Council members approve special-use permit for asphalt plant

The council's decision means RJ Zavoral & Sons will now be able to build and operate an asphalt plant on land recently annexed into the city.

East Grand Forks City Hall
East Grand Forks City Hall. File photo Brandi Jewett/ Grand Forks Herald
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EAST GRAND FORKS – City Council members voted 6-1 to approve a special-use permit needed by RJ Zavoral & Sons for the construction and operation of an asphalt plant.

Council member Marc DeMers abstained from the vote and Clarence Vetter voted against it.

The proposed plant has been discussed by council members for the past two weeks. At the April 19 council meeting, council members agreed more discussion was needed on some of the conditions that could be set within the special-use permit.

The council has set nine conditions for the permit, including:

  • Requiring the road leading to the plant to be a hard-surfaced roadway within three years, unless otherwise agreed upon by RJ Zavoral & Sons and the council.
  • The piles and/or gravel road will need to be watered or calcium chlorate will need to be added if dust becomes a nuisance.
  • When the asphalt plant is in operation, the city’s noise ordinance will be followed and an annual decibel test taken during operation will be submitted to the city.
  • For noise pollution, the plant must follow Minnesota Administrative Rules Chapter 7030 as the land use activity would be classified as a level 3 under the noise area classification.
  • There will need to be a dry hydrant and a water retention pond to hold 120,000 gallons of water at any given time, to meet Minnesota and city fire code requirements.
  • The asphalt plant must hook up to city electrical service once it is available on site.
  • A topsoil berm will be required on the south end of the property with larger trees or a hedge row being planted on or near both the south and east sides of the property within five years.
  • The site will be allowed a maximum 300 ton/hour operational average per year.
  • The plant will need to be in substantial compliance with all city, state and federal permits, which includes the Air Emissions Permit and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit. All monitoring and emissions reports submitted to the state or federal governments will need to be submitted to the city annually.

The asphalt plant has raised several concerns by residents who worry about the potential health hazards, environmental effects, traffic impacts and quality-of-life issues the plant can cause.
Some residents have suggested giving RJ Zavoral & Sons a permit that would only be in effect for one year so they would be able to get a sense of what the odor and noise from the plant would be like.

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At last week’s council meeting, Vetter agreed a permit for a limited amount of time would provide answers to those residents; however, the length of the special-use permit can’t be limited, since an interim permit would need to be requested in order to do so.

Residents shared their concerns about the plant during Tuesday’s meeting, including resident Kelly Driscoll, who said residents throughout East Grand Forks haven’t been made aware of the plant by the city.

“All the people in the city of East Grand Forks are concerned about this, but a lot of people don’t know about it,” Driscoll said.

READ MORE EAST GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL

In other council news Tuesday, council members heard concerns from residents on flooding in their neighborhoods from recent rain. One resident who lives on Seventh Avenue Northwest said she wasn’t able to drive her car through all the water on the street after the rainfall on the weekend of April 23.

While the amount of water that accumulated on the roads in and around the northern neighborhoods in East Grand Forks is attributed to the amount of rain received and the frozen ground not being able to absorb the water, the resident said this is a problem even into the summer months.

“It’s been getting worse and worse every year,” she said.

Mayor Steve Gander said the city will look into the flooding in those neighborhoods by studying the potential sources of what's causing the flooding and get an estimate of how much it would cost to fix those issues.

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 MArbegast@gfherald.com.

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