By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Neighbors of a Santa Rosa asphalt plant are hoping the City Council will clear the air Tuesday over concerns raised about a major plant
A group of West End residents is asking the council to overturn a Planning Commission decision allowing Bodean Co. to add three, 82-foot high storage towers to its longtime operation.
Citing concerns about air quality, they first want an environmental impact report to be prepared for the project.
The company says the $1.5 million project would actually improve air quality around the plant, located near College Avenue and the railroad tracks, by reducing truck idling time and capturing vapors from fresh asphalt as it is dumped into waiting trucks.
The company says the new storage won’t increase the plant’s production capacity but merely make it run more efficiently.
Neighbors, however, worry that what Bodean calls an “upgrade” is really an expansion that will increase the amount of asphalt produced at the plant and the resulting dust, truck traffic and odors.
The distinction is important because the plant’s zoning status doesn’t allow it to expand operations. That’s because the six-acre site, while zoned for residential development, has a right to continue as a “legal non-conforming” as long as any expansions don’t “increase the degree or the detrimental effects” of the industrial use.
Neighbors have been passing out literature raising questions about the emission from the plant, including filing complaints with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
An air quality inspector visited the plant recently and may be performing some testing this week, said Allen Thomas, a leader of the West End Historic and Neighborhood District.
The plant is currently recycling used tires to create rubberized asphalt, a process that makes smooth roads but also horrible odors, he said.
“It’s really bad. It smells like burning rubber,” he said.
Even if the council rejects the call for a environmental report, Thomas said neighbors are committed to opposing the plant’s annual permit from the air quality district.
“It’s a heavy industrial use in a residential area and the two are not compatible,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.