Resistance builds toward concrete plant

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An 83-foot-tall concrete-mixing silo could be coming to a property in Fortville where CLM Pallet Recycling operates.

FORTVILLE — Opposition is mounting toward a proposed concrete-mixing plant, including from medical and environmental professionals as well as leaders in a neighboring city.

Zoning officials in Fortville are slated to make a decision on the proposal next week.

Anthony Matthews, who owns Indianapolis-based M&C Concrete and a company that owns the property on which CLM Pallet Recycling operates at 3103 W. 1000N in Fortville, wants to erect an 83-foot-tall concrete-mixing silo as part of a proposed concrete batch plant on the CLM property’s south end.

Hundreds of homes are in the area, including on the north side of (Hancock) CR 1000N in Fishers.

CLM Pallet Recycling’s industrial zoning designation allows for concrete mixing to occur there, but only if the Fortville Board of Zoning Appeals grants a special exception. The board first heard the request last month, but continued it to May to get more information about the potential effects of concrete batch plants and recommended spacing between them and residential areas.

Part of the board’s criteria when granting a special exception is determining that it won’t be dangerous, injurious or noxious. Opponents of the proposal argue it would be all three.

Kesler Krieg, an environmental professional and vapor intrusion specialist who lives in Fishers near CLM Pallet Recycling and is part of a neighborhood action group opposed to the proposal, recently submitted a report to Fortville government officials outlining concerns about concrete-mixing plants. The report includes information provided by Christopher S. Nelson, a doctor of occupational medicine who also lives in Fishers near the site.

Additionally, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and City Council member Pete Peterson submitted a letter to the Fortville Board of Zoning Appeals strongly encouraging members to deny the special exception.

Dr. Nelson’s portion of the report refers to very small atmospheric particulate matter that comes from concrete-mixing facilities. Due to their fine size, the particles remain in the air longer, increasing the likelihood of people inhaling them. The particles can also bypass the nose and throat and enter deep into the lungs and even circulatory system, his report continues.

He points to research and studies that have found links between exposure to small particulate matter and premature death from heart and lung disease, as well as fine particles worsening chronic diseases.

Nelson’s report also refers to associations between fine particles and adverse pregnancy outcomes along with reductions in lung function and capacity in children.

“Long after that cement batch plant is gone, and it will be someday, the health effects that it’s going to leave for the children in the surrounding community – I promise you – they’re going to continue on,” Nelson said at a Fortville Town Council meeting Monday night.

Krieg’s portion of the report states that the neighborhood action group understands the importance of business and industry to their communities and the need for concrete, but that the proposal “presents unacceptable risk to human health and the environment…”

He notes that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management imposes limits on the amount of dust from aggregate used at concrete batch plants. However, those limits are determined by how much the dust in the air diminishes transparency, which is subjective.

Indiana also allows emissions to migrate beyond source properties and onto others, Krieg’s report continues, adding the state does not regulate minimum distances between batch plants and nearby properties.

Rules are more stringent elsewhere. Krieg points to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule for concrete batch plant permits in Indian country requiring at least 150 feet between plants and the nearest property line, and at least 1,000 feet between plants and the nearest residence. His report also notes that Texas requires a 440-yard buffer between concrete plants and homes.

The nearest home to CLM Pallet Recycling borders the property on the business’ northwest side. Using Hancock County’s online mapping tool, it appears the area slated for the batch plant on CLM’s south side may be 150 feet from property lines and 1,000 feet from the home.

In their letter to Fortville’s zoning board, Fishers officials Fadness and Peterson recall the coordination between both municipalities during the design of the city’s Preserve at Arbor Pines and Bridger Pines neighborhoods on the north side of (Hancock) CR 1000N. They cite the pedestrian network connected to nearby Flat Fork Creek Park as well.

“The vision for this area is residential neighborhoods that are well supported by outdoor amenities that encourage pedestrian activity,” the letter states. “A concrete mixing plant and the associated public health concerns from particulate matter would be considered detrimental to this vision and the public and environmental health of both of our communities.”

Matthews, the businessman behind the proposal for the batch plant, did not return a request for comment.

Opponents filled the meeting room at the Fortville Community Center for the town council session Monday night with hopes of voicing their concerns. Town attorney Alex Intermill cautioned against it, however, noting the special exception is solely a zoning board decision and that discussion at the council meeting could compromise the process. Fritz Fentz, town council president, encouraged those at the meeting to attend next week’s zoning board meeting.

The Fortville Board of Zoning Appeals meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26 at the Fortville Community Center, 400 W. Church St.

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