Council chairman says he won't advance recommendation on Weber asphalt piles
February 09, 2005 - By SCOTT MILLER
County Council Chairman John Campisi told the Call he will not advance a recommendation to allow Fred Weber Inc. to keep its 65-foot asphalt pile in the quarry by Baumgartner Road in Oakville.
"I am adamant about telling Fred Weber: 'No, you can't have that pile there,'" the south county Republican told the Call.
The Planning Commission last week recommended the county rezone the land — subject to conditions — to accommodate Fred Weber's milled asphalt pile, which is on land zoned for non-urban or quarry uses, not an asphalt pile. The inappropriate zoning was brought to the county's attention in 2003 by Oakville residents angered by Weber's proposal for a trash-transfer station.
If Fred Weber's request to rezone the land is not approved, the company will have to remove the pile, Campisi said.
"I'm disappointed in the Planning Com-mission's decision. I'm going to receive and file (the recommendation) and it's going to just sit there," he said.
"It's plain and clear that that pile should not have been there," Campisi added. "My No. 1 concern when this issue came up was the health of all of those people who live around the quarry. The oils from that asphalt pile are seeping into the ground."
Ignoring the Planning Commission's recommendation actually won't be beneficial to those residents, contended Fred Weber attorney Gary Feder of Husch & Eppen-berger.
If the land isn't rezoned, he said, the pile will be moved to appropriately zoned land closer to the residents and will be much larger than it is now.
"I hope we can convince the County Council and the residents that approving this is a lot better than turning it down because if this isn't approved, we'll have to move the piles to the asphalt plant site, which we be-lieve will be much less desirable to the residents who have opposed this," Feder told the Call. "I would like to believe that one way or another the County Council is willing to consider this recommendation."
When asked if Fred Weber would take legal action if the council didn't act on the recommendation, Feder said, "I would hope that the council will approve this and we won't have to consider other alternatives."
Fred Weber officials want to avoid the cost and inconvenience of moving the pile, he said.
The Planning Commission's recommendation requires Weber to decrease the 65-foot pile to 25 feet within 12 months of the zoning change. And within six years, the pile has to be cut from the current eight-year supply to a two-year supply of asphalt.
Weber also would need to improve stormwater control at the site and prevent toxic materials from flowing into the Mattese Creek, which winds through the quarry. The commission also wants a truck-wash operation on the site to prevent the spread of asphalt dust and wants Weber to cut toxic and corrosive fumes from the northern and eastern ends of the land.
Weber also would need to prove the operation complies with federal, state and local air quality regulations, which company officials say it does.
"The conditions that were imposed are, I believe, going to be acceptable to Fred Weber," Feder said.
The requirements outlined in the commission's recommendations did not change Campisi's mind.
"It's nothing against Fred Weber," Cam-pisi said. "They just have to comply to all the rules and regulations that everybody else has to comply to. They get no special attention."
The issue has been boiling since Weber proposed a trash-transfer station in late 2002. Unhappy residents near the south quarry began digging for regulation violations by the company and discovered the land containing the asphalt pile wasn't appropriately zoned for it.
When Weber requested the zoning change, residents stormed the County Council chambers during public hearings and said the pile was creating health and environmental risks. An unofficial, non-statistical survey conducted by the Isaiah Cluster of Metropolitan Congregations United, or MCU, suggested residents near the quarry were more susceptible to respiratory problems. The study lacks scientific merit, however.
A Weber-funded study claims otherwise, but the Missouri Department of Natural Resources questioned that study's scientific merit.
The pending rezoning request would not allow the company to construct a trash-transfer station. It only would allow the asphalt pile to stay where it is.