Weber County gravel hearing

Wendy McKay of Huntsville addresses Weber County commissioners on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, on a proposed concrete and gravel facility in Eden. Most at the public hearing spoke out against the plans and commissioners voted against the rezone the developer needed for the plans to proceed.

OGDEN — After hearing from 39 speakers on plans to develop a concrete batching plant in the Eden area — the vast majority of them opposed — Weber County commissioners on Tuesday turned back the proposal.

Now is not the time, said Commissioner Gage Froerer, and the location abutting Snowcrest Junior High school is not the place.

Commissioner Jim Harvey cited potential traffic issues created by the truck traffic the proposed gravel and concrete facility would generate and concerns about noise and the possible impact to groundwater. A rock crusher would operate at the plant.

Tuesday’s action, after a public hearing on the proposed zoning change that Champlin, Minnesota-based developer Levanta LLC needed to allow the plans to move forward, upholds a recommendation from late June by the Ogden Valley Planning Commission to deny the requested rezone. Those on hand clapped after Froerer and Harvey voted 2-0 to deny the rezone, but Froerer said the time will likely come when continued growth necessitates development of a concrete-making facility in the Ogden Valley.

“It’s going to happen. We’re going to have growth and we need to deal with that growth in the proper manner,” he said. Scott Jenkins, the third county commissioner, left Tuesday’s meeting early and didn’t vote in the matter.

Kody Holker, manager of Levanta, said the no vote didn’t surprise him. The June 25 public hearing on the issue held by the Ogden Valley Planning Commission, a prelude to Tuesday’s action, also drew a long line of critics. Likewise, county planners had recommended against the rezone due to its possible impacts to traffic flow and questions about potential impact to groundwater.

Still, Holker’s efforts aren’t necessarily over. “Continue exploring sustainable growth,” he said, queried about his next steps. “The commissioner said it,” he continued, referencing Froerer’s remarks, “it needs to be done.”

Proponents had touted the gravel and concrete facility on an undeveloped 14-acre plot at 4720 E. 2650 North as a way to generate the materials needed locally to keep pace with growth. Having concrete in the Ogden Valley would preclude the need to truck it from the Ogden area, reducing carbon emissions and, by reducing truck traffic, making area roadways safer.

Critics, though, weren’t moved. A Change.org petition garnered more than 600 signatures against the plans.

“We feel we live in such an amazing, pristine place,” said Wendy McKay, a member of the Huntsville Town Council and among the many who spoke out. To allow a concrete facility to take shape, she and others said, would not fit in the area, where skiing, other outdoor activities and tourism are big.

Ron Lackey, president of the board of Eden Water Works, the water provider in the area, expressed concern about the possibility of the concrete operation tainting its supply. Eden Water Works’ well sits 158 yards from the proposed site, he said, and the water it taps is about 60 feet underground.

Charlie Ewert, principle planner in the Weber County Planning Division, said he’s not sure if the operation would impact the groundwater. “There could be some effects there,” Ewert said. But if something bad did happen, forcing relocation, Lackey said the cost to Eden Water Works would be considerable.

The debate over the plans had gotten heated and Holker suggested that some of the information circulating wasn’t always accurate. Project boosters created a Facebook page to promote the project, dubbed Weber County Concerned Citizens for Air Quality and Road Safety.

“You’ve been the victim of some misinformation in the county,” Holker told commissioners.

Gravel from the land where the gravel and concrete batching plant would sit, bisected by the North Fork Ogden River, is already being removed per a state-approved river restoration project, Holker said. The rezone would allow the material to be processed at the proposed onsite batching plant, he said, but water would be protected.

“Our interests are mutually aligned in not contaminating the water,” he said.

Even so, water wasn’t the only concern. Margaret Kluthe, a pediatrician from South Ogden mulling relocation to Eden, expressed concern about emissions of dust and other particulate matter, especially with Snowcrest JHS next door.

“Having a gravel pit right next to a school is a bad marriage. This should not happen,” she said.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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