By Lyndsie Kiebert
The Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit for an asphalt batch plant in Sagle after a well-attended and emotional hearing Thursday, Nov. 15.
The batch plant, to be used by Interstate Concrete and Asphalt, would be located just off Highway 95 in the Linscott gravel pit. Interstate has long used materials from the pit in their asphalt and is now proposing to process those materials in the same location to help mitigate the extra miles it takes to move them to the company’s current batch plant in Sandpoint.
“We want to reduce annual wear and tear on these routes,” said Interstate’s Engineer of Record Steve Syrcle. “We all conduct our lives on asphalt concrete pavement.”
The Bonner County Planning Department staff report, which was presented at the hearing prior to comments, determined that the proposed plant was in compliance with the county’s comprehensive plan and current code.
Several Sagle residents, most of whom said they could see the pit from their homes, spoke against the proposed plant and urged the commission to deny the conditional use permit. Reasons ranged from personal health to property values.
“I am in complete opposition because my life depends on it,” said Jonna Plante, who has multiple sclerosis. Over-stimulation causes her symptoms to flare, so Plante said she chose her home in Sagle specifically for seclusion from light, sound and other stimulants she expects from the batch plant.
Alex Murray, who lives within half a mile of the Linscott pit, said he speaks from experience when opposing the asphalt plant. Interstate has been approved to use the pit for temporary asphalt processing in the past, and at those times Murray said the plant could be heard from his home.
“I can say with authority that you can hear the operations,” he said. “This is clearly the wrong location.”
Interstate said that they could not find any public records of complaints during those temporary operations, and also noted that in their tests of batch plant noise levels, the proposed plant would be 4-8 decibels quieter than the rock crushing plant already located on the Sagle property.
Come time for the commission to vote on the permit, the only requested edit to Interstate’s proposal was a change in operation start time from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Commissioners Brian Bailey and Suzanne Glasoe voted in favor, and commissioners Sheryl Reeve and Taylor Bradish voted against approving the permit. Chair Don Davis, who stepped down to split the tie, voted in favor.
Those opposed to the P&Z commission’s decision have 28 days as of the hearing to submit an appeal to the Bonner County Board of Commissioners.
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