Residents riled up over plant

Asphalt facility seeks permission for state-line site

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Following a hard-won rezone of 116 acres in Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene Paving is pursuing a permit to operate an asphalt batch plant and concrete batch plant at the property.

Despite letters of opposition piling up at Kootenai County, the company is confident the commissioners will approve the requested special notice permit, said company co-owner Todd Kaufman.

"They wouldn't have let us do the rezone if they didn't want us to move out there," Kaufman said. "I would think this should be a pretty easy no brainer."

The company has applied to operate the plants at the rezoned site north of Seltice Way, roughly half a mile west of Beck Road and just west of Stateline Speedway.

Coeur d'Alene Paving has long aimed at relocating its asphalt batch plant off Highway 53 in Rathdrum to the Post Falls site.

That Rathdrum operation has been hotly contested by neighbors, and runs under restricted hours of operation.

"What we're looking for is better hours, that's the whole reason we're looking to move in," said Kaufman, adding that the company may add the concrete plant down the road.

Upon obtaining a permit last year to run the Rathdrum operation permanently, Coeur d'Alene Paving was conditioned by the commissioners to seek a more appropriate spot.

The company has pointed out that the Post Falls site is in the midst of similar operations, including a concrete plant and Stateline Speedway.

"It's like in kind," Kaufman said.

Property owners in Eastern Washington and in Post Falls have disagreed.

Worried about traffic, noise and pollution from a potential asphalt operation, scores of neighbors spoke out against the rezone proposal at county hearings. The commissioners approved the rezone this April after remanding the application to the county examiner, with the condition that the company create a development agreement for operations on the site.

Forty-six public comments have been submitted about the new permit application, roughly 98 percent in opposition.

Newman Lake, Wash. residents Sherry and Bob Lang wrote that they worry about impacts on their three sons' asthma and allergies.

"An asphalt and concrete plant would not only compromise the quality of life for thousands of people in both Idaho and Washington, it will also have a financial impact," the couple stated in their letter. "Allowing this request to go through will further decrease already low property values."

Post Falls resident Jennifer Eastman pleaded not to allow such an operation near her property, where her 2-year-old plays outside.

Barbara Foster, who lives on Stateline Road, wrote that the operation would ruin her favorite activities like gardening and sitting on the deck.

"I do not want my evenings interrupted by a constant barrage of loud noises and dust and grit," Foster wrote.

Sarah Peterson, who lives on North Idaho Road in Newman Lake, also wrote a long list of potential negatives, like breathing issues for her children, dust, fumes, traffic and affected crops.

"Enough is enough," Peterson wrote. "This is affecting people's lives."

The public comment period on the new permit application runs through July 1.

The county has yet to determine if a hearing will be held before the county commissioners.

Kaufman couldn't confirm how soon operations would be up and running at the stateline site, if the permit is approved.

"It all depends," he said, noting the cost of moving and bringing in utilities. "There's a lot more to do than just say 'Yep, you can do it.'"

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