Thursday, June 30, 2011
Zoning says no to asphalt plant
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County zoning board said no to Stephen Jackson, a representative of Rogers Group, who wanted to put a temporary asphalt plant on the old Big Bird Diner lot on Highway 7 South.
Jackson and landowner Barry Thomas asked to discuss the possibility of operating the temporary plant while the company paves U.S. 78 from the West Exit of Holly Springs to the Benton County line. Rogers Group, a company headquartered in Nashville, won the contract by underbidding one contractor by $5 million and another by $2 million, Thomas said.
A number of residents near the proposed site attended the meeting to voice opposition to the facility – citing noise, smoke, pollution, and traffic congestion as reasons they didn’t want the plant to operate near their domains.
Some individuals favored the facility, because it would only be temporary and because it would provide jobs and income to the city and to businesses.
Jackson said the six-acre site would be strategic to his company if located near Holly Springs. It would take fewer trucks to get the mix to the highway than if he located the asphalt mix plant in New Albany where he has a second site in mind, he said.
Thomas said he knew people would be inconvenienced, but many jobs could come from it. The new plants operate quieter and produce less smoke because they are regulated by the government, he said. He produced letters from several businesses nearby who said they did not oppose the facility near their businesses.
The business owners cited jobs, proximity to the interstate, and other considerations such as more business for the community as reasons to favor the facility.
“It has some positives, but definitely some negatives,” said Thomas. “They can operate anywhere now.”
He cited an asphalt mix plant of this type situated next door to a school in Collierville.
Jackson said the plants now operate anywhere almost, near downtown areas, next to residential areas. His company is in the quarry and asphalt plant business, he said.
He said his facility is an Aztec Turbo 400 – a newer style plant. They are used to following strict environmental quality regulations, he said.
There would be some noise, some odor, and some inconvenience to the community, he said.
“We will do everything we can to be good neighbors,” he said.
Thomas said if the board turned down their proposal, he wanted to still be friends with the community. He would not press further, he said, if the community did not want it.
A number of people opposed the facility, even though it would be temporary.
Wallace Young, a resident across the highway from the site, said he was opposed because traffic congestion is already difficult, especially when the motor sports has an event or on football game weekends. He cited concerns about pollution as well.
Willie Pryor, who said, “I live right at it,” was opposed.
“I bought my home and paid for it,” he said. “I don’t want it. I understand we need it, but I don’t want it there. I am just over the hedges there. I am very concerned about it.”
“We don’t need it for health problems,” said Mrs. Freddie Hampton.
Bobbie Leseure was concerned about traffic problems.
Sonja Wilkins opposed because she said there were many elderly people living in the area as well as young folks who would be adversely affected.
“We have the race track there; I just don’t want it,” she said.
Telsa DeBerry, who does not live in the immediate area, said he is for the plant because it offers growth and opportunity.
Holly Springs would remain stagnant in terms of growth “if we always reject opportunity,” he said.
“As for traffic, there is a price for progress,” he said. “I have a heart for our city to succeed. If we send business elsewhere, we should not be surprised at what we get.”
Celestine Tucker said she is affronted when people who do not live in Holly Springs come in and try to tell the community what it needs.
“You don’t know,” she said.
Others opposing were Ella Jones, Velda Johnson and Regina Walker.
Leslie Young also opposed.
“We really don’t want it there,” Young said. “I think you sitting there wouldn’t want it in your back yard. I don’t want it in my back yard.”
Danny Tate was for the proposed plant because it was only a temporary inconvenience and would be convenient to the highway for trucks.
“We need to open our eyes and let the community grow,” he said.
Edwin Callicutt, speaking for his brother, said dust would be a concern for his storage units.
Jackson said dust would be kept to a minimum by watering down the gravel.
“My deceased mother lived there and I agree with the group; we don’t want it there,” said Walker. “We are not talking about a lot of dust, but a lot of people. We used to not worry about things coming in and going out of here.”
Carolyn Byers, Willie Pryor’s daughter, said the issue is quality of life.
“My dad is 84 years old and that is not acceptable,” she said. “I don’t think they are saying no asphalt plant in Holly Springs, but not there.”
Claude Vinson was in favor of it.
“Listen folks, please, this is progress,” he said. “Throughout history there was noise, there was traffic. I am for it.”
Rep. Kelvin Buck said the plant would offer much needed economic advancement.
“What if the people in Blue Springs said they just didn’t want it (Toyota)? They had to be inconvenienced,” he said. “There is going to be dust because the highway is going to be repaired. I hate to see people reject the opportunity. We are going to say, we just historically say, ‘no.’ When are we going to say, ‘yes?’ ”
Buck added that Highway 7 South is scheduled for expansion.
“Look at Memphis Street,” he said. “It was inconvenience but now we have a center lane. It’s not going to happen without some of us having some inconveniences. I hope you will consider and make this a better opportunity to get something done.”
Director Joe Hurdle asked zoning administrator Conway Moore about her son who lives near an asphalt plant in Oxford.
Moore said her son, who has asthma, lives right next door to an asphalt plant in Oxford, and the plant does not aggravate his condition. She has two rental houses there and they have never been vacant for more than two weeks, she said.
Zoning directors offered their opinions before a motion was brought to the floor.
“It doesn’t just start and stop with you,” Bill Kinkade said. “Highway 69 - we weren’t given a choice. They took land. We have a choice today about whether we do or don’t. I, too, have lived here 20 years. In respect to Mr. Pryor and Mr. Young, I couldn’t agree more. Broken windshields. Dust. I don’t want a junk yard in my front yard.”
Director Ethelene Jones, expressed dismay and said New Albany was her choice for the plant’s location. She said especially the aged people’s lives would be uprooted – those who have struggled to keep their community what it is.
She also questioned whether tax revenues would justify it.
Flick Ash spoke about respect for the community’s wishes.
“From time to time we’ve run into these things and have to make a decision,” he said, citing the proposed rubbish site and an industry that wanted to locate on Highway 302 – both voted down.
“These people have looked at it and I know this is a real good company,” he said. “In all issues, I feel people should have a voice and I am opposed.”
Ash then motioned to deny the site.
“I have to back up what the community wants,” said Kinkade. “People have a voice and this many are here.”
Director Joe Hurdle said he agreed.
“We try to do what people want and, in this case, I think people should have thought it through,” he said. “You’ve had your way today. We appreciate your comments.”
Ash’s motion, seconded by Jones, passed by unanimous vote of the board.
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