Recommendations presented to East Grand Forks council members on proposed asphalt plant

A subcommittee, which is made up of City Administrator David Murphy, City Attorney Ron Galstad and City Council members Tim Riopelle, Brian Larson and Mark Olstad, was created to evaluate findings from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s that RJ Zavoral & Sons exceeded air emission limits on a portable asphalt plant

East Grand Forks City Hall
East Grand Forks City Hall. File photo Brandi Jewett/ Grand Forks Herald
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EAST GRAND FORKS – Recommendations from a subcommittee reviewing recent findings from a state agency that says a local company exceeded air emission limits were presented to East Grand Forks City Council members on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

The subcommittee reviewed the findings from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's enforcement investigation of RJ Zavoral & Sons, which were released in July.

The MPCA found that RJ Zavoral & Sons exceeded air pollutant emissions, failed to complete equipment performance tests for up to four years and failed to keep various required equipment inspection records. The violations are associated with two of the company's portable hot mix asphalt plants and two portable rock crushing plants.

The subcommittee, which is made up of City Administrator David Murphy, City Attorney Ron Galstad and City Council members Tim Riopelle, Brian Larson and Mark Olstad, was created to determine what recommendations should be made as RJ Zavoral & Sons was approved a special-use permit in May to build and operate an asphalt plant on the city’s eastern edge.

After review the subcommittee brought back three recommendations to the council in addition to the nine special-use permit requirements. The recommendations include:


  • A five-year probationary period
  • Monthly inspection reports provided to the city that are required by the MPCA to include, but not limited to ducts; connections and housing leaks; and fiber-filter devices for interior cleaning system requirements
  • Annual emission/stack testing for the asphalt plant tied to the probationary period

The five-year probationary period will help the city ensure that everything is remaining in compliance with the MPCA and the special-use permit. Galstad said if emissions are violated at any point within the five years, council members would then determine whether the special-use permit should be revoked after that period of time. The five-year probationary period will start when the plant becomes operational.

Larson said the committee wants to instill confidence in the public for the planned asphalt plant and came up with the recommendations based on that goal.

“As we went through this process, I can only speak for myself now, we wanted to find a way to instill confidence in our public that this plant will always be operating within environmental compliance,” Larson said. “One of the ways we thought we could do that was to ensure that the additional air quality testing was instilled especially over the first few years here as that plant’s being established. If we show that there’s a great track record of environmental compliance going above and beyond, we think that we’ll have that public confidence back.”

Many residents have voiced their concerns about the proposed plant with some of the top worries related to potential health hazards, environmental effects, traffic impacts and quality-of-life issues the plant can cause.

Joseph Zavoral, treasurer and estimating manager for R.J. Zavoral & Sons, said the stack testing recommendation does create some challenges for the company as in order to properly complete the test, the plant needs to be operated at maximum capacity, which wouldn't be the case for the East Grand Forks plant.

“You’re looking at a full day of running at maximum capacity," Zavoral said. “Depending on the size of the plant, that could be a 2,500 to 3,000 ton day, which around here the projects aren’t large enough to handle that much output.”

Olstad said more discussion is needed within the subcommittee and with RJ Zavoral & Sons on what recommendations would work for the company.

East Grand Forks City Administrator David Murphy said after the Grand Forks council decision, East Grand Forks council members will need to talk about the next steps moving forward at a future work session meeting

In other news Tuesday, council members:


Received an update on the 2023 federal funding project including whether council members would want to assess 20-30% of the total project cost to property owners. The projects include Fifth Avenue Northeast from 20th Street Northeast to 15th Street Northeast, Fifth Avenue Northeast from Highway 2 to 10th Street Northeast and DeMers Avenue from Highway 2 to Fourth Street Northwest.

Reviewed hiring incentives for the East Grand Forks Police Department, which has two open positions. Murphy said the steady decline of applicants for police officer positions is an issue over the entire state. Some hiring incentives presented to council members for consideration are $5,000 hiring bonuses, $2,500 relocation bonuses, and $5,000 retention bonuses. The impact these incentives will have on the city’s budget based on average new hires and assuming full staggage is estimated at $115,000. That amount is included in the 2023 budget.

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 701-780-1267 or

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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