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Supporters, opponents make their cases to planning panel to permit asphalt on quarry sites

October 05, 2005 - By LAURA UHLMANSIEK

Staff Reporter

Supporters and opponents of a request by County Councilman Skip Mange, R-Town and Country, to amend the county's zoning ordinance to allow the storage and processing of asphalt at quarry sites with asphalt plants made their cases last week during a public hearing conducted by the Planning Commission.

The commission took no action on Mange's request to amend the zoning ordinance to permit the storage and processing of milled asphalt on quarry sites that contain or are adjacent to asphalt plants.

Supporters of the proposed amendment addressed the benefits of being able to store recycled asphalt at the sites.

Opponents contended that such a change would be too broad and would not take into consideration the different circumstances of each quarry, such as its proximity to residential areas.

The Planning Commission will not conduct another public hearing but is scheduled to make its recommendation, which will be sent to the County Council, when it meets Monday, Nov. 7.

Mange introduced the resolution for the Planning Commission to consider the amendment at the County Council's Aug. 30 meeting, two months after Chairman John Campisi, R-south county, denied a rezoning request by Fred Weber Inc. that would have permitted the asphalt pile at its Oakville quarry.

Lester Stuckmeyer, an attorney representing residents of the Cambridge Pointe subdivision near Weber's quarry, said that this resolution is an effort to change the law for one company.

"I'm here to talk about what is perceived by the residents of Cambridge Pointe subdivision to be a kind of end-run-around the rejection that has twice been given to one quarry in the area — that would be Fred Weber's Baumgartner site," Stuckmeyer told the commission Sept. 26. "I have up to this point in time not seen any other quarry, including these gentlemen that spoke here today, that have been before this Planning Commission, the board of zoning, and the council asking for a special exemption and or for a change in the zoning of their plant in order to allow that pile, and there's only one company that I can think of in St. Louis County that has currently been cited for violations of its CUP in regards to a RAP (recycled asphalt pavement) pile."

He said that each individual quarry should have an individual query instead of changing the zoning ordinance in a way that does not take into consideration the differences between each quarry.

Mike Zeek, county planner, presented a map to the Planning Commission of eight quarries that are in the county.

Only four of these quarries actually would be affected by the proposed zoning ordinance amendment, Zeek said. The other four will not be affected because they are situated within municipalities, do not have an asphalt plant, or are already zoned industrial and so can stockpile asphalt at their sites.

The four that would be affected include Central Stone North, Bussen Antire, and Fred Weber Inc. South and Simpson Sand and Gravel. He said there may be more quarries that could be affected by change to the zoning ordinance.

"There might be some out there that we just didn't look at," Zeek said.

Zeek told the Call that asphalt quarries are permitted in areas zoned industrial, which includes M-1, M-2 and M-3 or they are permitted in Non-Urban districts if they obtain a conditional use permit.

If a company wanted to stockpile RAP, then it must be stockpiled in an area zoned industrial. Zeek said that for the four quarries that would be affected, the quarry is zoned Non-Urban with a conditional use permit and the asphalt plant is located on a small area of land zoned M-3, so there is not much space to stockpile the RAP.

Representatives of construction companies, including Bussen Antire and Simp-son Stone and Gravel, were present and spoke in favor of the change. No representatives from Fred Weber spoke.

Mark Bussen, president of Bussen Quar-ries, told the commission that the change in the ordinance would save both tax dollars and save space in landfills by utilizing recycled asphalt because the quarries have limited space to store the RAP.

"In the day and age of cost consciousness, environmental consciousness and the distaste for tax-dollar waste, this proposal does have some logic," Bussen said. "The practice of using and storing recycled asphalt is commonly done across the world. This recycled asphalt pavement is found on parks, parking lots and road ... In order for us to save everyone in this room tax dollars, we need to have flexibility on where to store this material."

The Fred Weber south quarry is on the southeast side of Baumgartner Road. The site is zoned as Non-Urban and Flood Plain Districts and has conditional use permits to allow stockpiling of limestone or aggregates. The quarry also includes an area that is zoned M-3, where it operates its asphalt plant.

The company has stockpiled 275,000 tons of RAP outside the M-3 area. The zoning violation was brought to the county's attention in 2003 by Oakville residents who were angered by Weber's proposal for a trash-transfer station.

Residents said the asphalt pile, besides its smell, is a health hazard. At the Planning Commission hearing, Tom Diehl of Oakville pointed out the health hazards of the pile.

"We are all familiar with the smell of hot asphalt," Diehl said. "That smell is hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is formed by the breakdown of organic materials. Recent medical research reveals permanent central nervous system damage may occur at levels of hydrogen sulfide exposure found at asphalt plants. Lower levels of hydrogen sulfide are now known to cause serious health effects."

The county, at the request of Metropoli-tan Congregations United, is funding soil, water, and air quality tests that are scheduled to be completed by spring or summer of next year.

Rep. Sue Schoemehl, D-Oakville, told the commission that she would like the see the decision on the zoning ordinance postponed until the tests are completed.

"The citizens are concerned for their safety, for their health, for their children's health," Schoemehl said.

After Weber was cited for its zoning violation, the company requested that the site's zoning be changed to the M-3 Plan-ned Industrial District and the FPM-3 Flood Plain Planned Industrial District so that the company could continue to use the site to store and recycle asphalt.

The Planning Commission recommended Jan. 31 to the County Council that it rezone Weber's property to accommodate the milled asphalt pile, as long as certain conditions were met. The County Council dropped the recommendation at its June 21 meeting, essentially denying the request.

  • Pitch It & Forget It
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