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Letter: Replace the ‘good old boy’ City Council in East Grand Forks

East Grand Forks Mayor Steve Gander claims residents were informed about the asphalt plant and he and the council are doing the people's work. East Grand Forks wants to know, what people?

Letter to the editor FSA
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East Grand Forks Mayor Steve Gander claims residents were informed about the asphalt plant and he and the council are doing the people's work. East Grand Forks wants to know, what people?

After being denied a county permit to build the plant farther from town, RJ Zavoral & Sons petitioned the City Council to annex land from the county. Since sale of this land to the Zavorals was dependent on annexation, Councilman Tim Johnson said it should be approved because of what the sellers have done for East Grand Forks. Annexation and rezoning were unanimously approved. But who knew?

Administrator David Murphy stated the notification mailing list was expanded to include more residents, from zero to one property owner. No other residences or businesses were notified. No information was on the city website under news, calendar, or public notices, nor were minutes or memos posted. Meetings were only listed on council agendas.

The township administration informed residents who spread the word. People attended meetings and the councils received documented information, letters and phone calls. Residents say calls were not returned, council members were often argumentative and showed blatant disregard for the distress over property value losses, health concerns, odor, noise, truck traffic, operation hours, and impact on businesses. An asphalt plant worker and others disputed claims regarding equipment, plant operations and regulation compliance. There was no support for the asphalt plant.

Councilman Clarence Vetter suggested a temporary permit with restrictions so concerns could be addressed. But, Councilman Mark Olstad disagreed because of Zavoral’s cost. Councilman Dale Helms “didn’t want to put rules on Zavorals because competitors may not have them,” and he didn’t think it was “as serious as what everyone is making out.” Councilman Johnson said it will save money by getting cheaper contracts, but wanted the permit for only RJ Zavoral and revoked if sold. Councilman Tim Riopelle argued with a parent and expressed spite over a resident’s comment. Councilman Brian Larson replied “no” when asked if he would want to live near this, then voted yes. At the workshop, the council only allowed Zavoral to speak and ignored the hundreds of petitioned signatures.

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A permanent permit was approved 5-1 without restrictions. There’s plenty more, but enough said.

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