UPDATE:Plymouth Residents don't want new plant in their backyard - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Plymouth Residents don't want new plant in their backyard

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Numbers are speaking volumes in the city of Plymouth.

On Tuesday night, the planning commission held a meeting, and here's what was up for discussion. Irving Materials Inc wants some land re-zoned industrial so they can build a concrete and asphalt plant, but neighbors don't want that to happen.

While no public comment was taken, Mike Delp - who is on the planning commission - told us there was a packed house.

Therefore, city council will look into getting a bigger space for the upcoming public hearing in April.

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"Not in our backyard"  That's the message in Plymouth as neighbors of a proposed asphalt plant are speaking out.

It's a rezoning request that won't be introduced to the City Planning Commission until Tuesday night.  But already residents are organized in opposition.

We're talking about an area off 31 and 11th Road, Southeast of the City of Plymouth.  That's where Irving Materials Inc wants to put an asphalt and concrete plant.  To do that, they have to get the land re-zoned as industrial.  So that's what they're asking for now.

But the people who live in the subdivision right next door don't want that to happen.  Amanda Petrucelli is one of them.  Pointing to her backyard she said,  "an asphalt plant and a concrete plant right there, which will block our beautiful sunsets."

Petrucelli and her husband moved to the neighborhood to get away from noise and pollution of the city.  But now they're worried that noise and pollution could be moving to them.  Irving Materials Inc. wants to build a concrete and asphalt plant right behind them and she's not happy about it.  "It'll give us noise pollution, it'll give us air pollution, it'll give us water pollution.  It's going to harm the wildlife," said Petrucelli.

The land is currently a gravel pit. It was there before Petrucelli's home and others in the neighborhood were built.  Petrucelli said, "You can't complain too much about that cause it was here when we got here."

But she and her neighbors are complaining now.  They've created a Facebook page, sent letters, and started a petition asking council to vote against rezoning that piece of land.  "If our home values go down and we can't sell these houses, that's a really big deal to a lot of people," said Petrucelli.

We contacted Steve Henderson with Irving Materials Inc.  He told us he was too sick to talk on camera Monday but did communicate through email telling us, "I truly understand the neighbors anxiety toward our proposed plan."  

He said that's why the company invited the neighbors to a dinner and informational meeting last month, to hear their questions and concerns. 

To address those, Henderson also sent us a document on the Environmental Impact of Asphalt Plants.  It states, "Asphalt plants are well-regulated by the EPA."  And,  "In 2002, the EPA officially de-listed asphalt plants as a major source of air pollution."  

It also states that asphalt plants have "baghouse filters" that capture emissions such as dust.

Petrucelli isn't sold, "All of that works just fine until it stops working."

For their part, Irving Materials plans to keep addressing the issues with neighbors.  Henderson told us, "We want to keep the dialogue going to see if we can find some common ground."

Petrucelli and other residents are also worried about the smell from the asphalt plant.  In the document Henderson sent us it admits there will be a smell.  It says, "Sometimes odors from the heated materials may also emanate from an asphalt plant.  Although they may be noticeable, these odors pose no danger to either plant personnel or to the communities in which a plant operates.  A noticeable odor does not indicate a health hazard."

Another concern of neighbors is traffic.  Again, according to the document Henderson sent us, "truck traffic to and from a plant can be heavy, particularly during the summer months when road repair and construction are greatest."

Another topic, water pollution.  Petrucelli said all the neighbors in the area are on well water.  She's worried chemicals at the asphalt plant could get into their drinking water.  The information from Henderson says, "no materials are leached from the pavement itself (because it is waterproof).  In fact, a number of drinking water reservoirs and fish hatcheries are lined with asphalt."

The residents are working to get information about all their concerns and voice them during a public hearing that will happen in April.  If you are interested you can ask to join their group on Facebook.  That is where they have posted the letters they have sent and the petition they  have created.

The public hearing will be April 1st.

And this whole process of re-zoning has several steps.  County Plan Commissioner and City Plan Consultant Ralph Booker said between now and April 1st Irving Materials will appear before the Technical Review Committee.  Then that committee will make a recommendation to the Plymouth Plan Commission.  The Plymouth Plan Commission then makes a recommendation to the City Council, or they can pass it with no recommendation.  But ultimately the City Council has the final say.

Also of note on all of this, the area we are talking about is technically in the County but it's in a two mile zone outside the city that Booker said by law the City has jurisdiction over.  That's why Plymouth is calling the shots on this.  Booker said people living in this two mile zone do not vote for City Council members but they do vote for two members of the City Plan Commission.

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