East Grand Forks Planning and Zoning Commission recommends allowing asphalt plant
The City Council will make the final decision on whether a special use permit will be granted to RJ Zavoral & Sons to build and operate an asphalt plant on the edge of town
EAST GRAND FORKS — Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday voted 5-1 to recommend approving a special use permit for a proposed asphalt plant in East Grand Forks.
Since 22 acres of farmland adjacent to East Grand Forks’ border with the Huntsville Township has been annexed into the city, RJ Zavoral & Sons has applied for a special use permit to build and operate the proposed asphalt plant on the land.
Importantly, the Planning and Zoning Commission is only a recommending body, meaning the permit still has to be presented to City Council and receive a final vote before the plant can be built and become operational. Another public hearing will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, during a City Council meeting.
During Thursday’s meeting, commission members heard comments from residents who shared their thoughts and concerns about the proposed plant. Among the top concerns were claims of environmental impacts, health hazards, traffic impacts and adverse effects on nearby property values.
Although RJ Zavoral & Sons provided a supplemental information packet addressing the environmental regulations and other bullet points, some perceived concerns remain, including specifics about noise and odor.
Some residents recommended RJ Zavoral & Sons receives a special use permit that would be in effect for a year in order for those uncertainties to be known.
“I’m going to ask that to approve, it would have the condition to be reviewed after one year,” one resident said. “And all of these unknowns and all these opinions and everything else, come the fall into the winter, everybody will have a lot better of an idea what the effects of the plant are.”
One suggestion discussed: If problems do occur over the course of the year, the permit could be revoked.
Other residents said having the plant operating for a year would still create issues. East Grand Forks resident and president of Stable Days Youth Ranch Ben Lester said the plant would not only impact those living nearby but also the youth ranch, which attracts guest from all over the region.
“If the Zavorals lived where we live, would they want this plant built there?” Lester asked. “I highly doubt it.”
Roger Altepeter said he is concerned about the proximity of the proposed plant to his house. He worries it would decrease his property value.
“I feel it’s much too close,” Altepeter said. “Anything that happens at the asphalt plant is going to be in my yard.”
The hours the plant can operate as well as the term of how long the plant can be in operation can be restricted if the permit is approved. The commissioners have left that up to the City Council to decide.
City Council members likely will vote on the special use permit next week and will be asked to present their reasoning as to why they approved or denied it.