It pays to have relatives in nearby cities: That’s how Minneapolis residents and park commissioners found out about a proposed asphalt plant in Roseville across the border from Francis A. Gross National Golf Course. The story is as much about how notice was given, as it is about the plant’s projected environmental impacts.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently extended its comment periods on both the project’s air emissions permit and its Environmental Assessment Worksheet from Aug. 11 to Sept. 10. But it wasn’t until Aug. 9 that some Northeast residents got word about the proposed plant.
That evening, three people; First District Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner Liz Wielinski, former Minneapolis park board commissioner Walt Dziedzic, and Lois Kelly from the Windom Park neighborhood, went to the Roseville City Council meeting and expressed their dismay.
Dziedzic said one of his sons lives in Roseville and received the “SWARM” newsletter (SouthWest Area Roseville Monitor) in late July and shared it with him. The newsletter states: “Over a year ago the agenda for a city council meeting listed [the] following innocuous agenda item: ‘Request by Bituminous Roadways for a conditional use permit to allow outdoor storage of aggregate materials and heavy equipment at 2280 Walnut.’ Only if you attended that May 18th council meeting would you have known that the outdoor storage involved asphalt stockpile and heavy equipment in support of the operation of an asphalt plant.'”
Walt Dziedzic told the Roseville Council the bushes that separate Gross golf course from this plant “won’t stop the stink that a plant will bring to the area. I lived through B.F. Nelson [a shingle-making plant in Northeast] and lived near the NSP plant. I wheeze today, and take an inhaler. There is no way that this should be in an urban area.”
Roseville City Council member Amy Ihlan confirmed that the issue came up about a year ago. “It turned up in a city council packet. I saw what was titled ‘Request for permit for outdoor storage,’ and as I read it, I realized it was outdoor storage for an asphalt plant. This was not temporary storage, such as we had granted after the I-35W bridge collapse. This was storage for a permanent, full-scale asphalt plant at that site.”
“It didn’t appear that any residents had been notified of this. I called some people who I knew lived in the area and they were able to come to the meeting,” Ihlan said. “I raised the issue of lack of notice. As a result, at that initial meeting, action was delayed.”
“The postponement allowed citizens to make a petition for environmental review; it ended up at the Minneapolis Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). That has slowed the project down enough that finally people in surrounding communities are finding out about it. I would urge people in Northeast and St. Anthony to comment to MPCA and also the Roseville City Council.”
Bituminous Roadways (BR) president Kent Peterson said the plant would be an expansion and replacement; the company has plants in South Minneapolis, Inver Grove Heights and Shakopee; the South Minneapolis plant (built in 1967) would close once Roseville was built and operating, in a couple of years.
The Environmental Assessment Worksheet, just the first step toward approval, shows that the various impacts would be within state-permitted standards.
Standing at the 2828 Longfellow Ave. plant, Peterson explained how the business works. Depending on the type of project, different sizes and types of sand and stone, “aggregates” run through a drying drum, and then drop into a machine where paddles mix them up with the super-hot asphalt cement. The mixture is conveyed to a container that drops the mix into customers’ waiting trucks. This is called a batch plant.
“People ask us at these public meetings why can’t we just be way out in the country. We have to be within 15 minutes of where the work is, and that’s in the metro area,” Peterson said. The mixtures become hard as the asphalt cement cools. Asphalt cement is derived from crude oil and is liquid at temperatures 280-350 F. Peterson said there are about 20 asphalt plants in the metro.
The Roseville plant would have different equipment, and more environmental controls. Peterson explained the new “drum mix plant” would have a larger revolving drum, two-thirds of which would serve to dry the aggregates. In the other third, the asphalt is added. The new plant will have not only the filter “bag house” to collect particulates and odors from the mixing process, but also a collection system for filtering odors at the place where the mix drops into the trucks, and vent condensers on the tanks where the hot asphalt is stored.
Most of what makes asphalt smell is hydrogen sulfide, Peterson said. The EAW predicts that the maximum hydrogen sulfide that could reach the golf course is a concentration of 3.63 cubic micrograms per hour; and states that the point at which a human being smells something is 11 cubic micrograms per hour.
What about noise? Peterson showed the perimeter plan for berms, 8-foot fences and vegetation. He showed a photo of a plant in another part of the country next to a shopping center.
The Roseville operation would take in used asphalt road material and, for two to three weeks once in spring and again in fall, a vendor would be brought on site to crush the material from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
BR’s plan’s Phase II includes adding a rail spur and a tank farm. Peterson explained that when they can buy asphalt cement in bulk during the winter, the savings in cost justify building the capacity to stockpile.
Bituminous Roadways has already cleared the site of its previous building. Piles of crushed concrete from that former building, and a series of steps, remain on the site.
The EAW identifies two visual impacts: the height of aggregate piles on site, 15 to 38 feet tall, and requires them to be set back from the edges 40 feet from streets, 20 feet from rear or side property lines; and a steam plume from the asphalt drum/dryer stack starting at its height, 50 feet. The plume would be most likely visible in winter (but the plant won’t operate then).
Truck traffic? Under standard conditions, 594 trips for all vehicles are anticipated, under maximum production, 674. By comparison, 121,000 vehicles per day pass through the Highway 36 and I-35 interchange south of the site, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation traffic data for 2008. The site is in an existing industrial park, and many of the uses involve shipping and receiving.
If MPCA officials think there is enough cause for concern, or if a request for an full-blown Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is received during the comment period, the MPCA citizens board may order an EIS, according to the cover letter on the Environmental Assessment Worksheet.
Liz Wielinski, the park commissioner, said constituents are calling her now that they’ve found out about the plant. “This is one of the highest grossing golf courses in our system. It provides money to support the lakes and ball fields. We depend on it, and this plant could present a problem. You are painting your house purple with orange trim.”
Lois Kelly said that next to a recreational area is not the place for this kind of industry. She questioned the safety of hot asphalt, and said the 7 a.m.-7 p.m. crushing operation is exactly when people are on the golf course and out of doors. “I hope someone would re-look at this. We like to think we’re good neighbors. If there’s anything you can do to curtail approval…”
When the MPCA makes their determination, the Roseville City Council will bring it back onto the agenda. The Aug. 9 comment time was allowed for items not currently on the council agenda.
A letter from the StoneCrest Homeowners Association, 22 townhomes within a half mile southwest of the BR site, said they believe the Environmental Assessment Worksheet was inadequate because there is no idea of what pollution is coming from the three highways nearby (35W, 36, and 280).
St. Anthony City Manager Mike Mornson emailed the Northeaster stating that the St. Anthony City Council also has sent a letter, along with the Minneapolis Park Board, stating their opposition.
The next step, Roseville Council Member Ihlan said, after the environmental assessment is finished, is it comes back to the Roseville council for land use approval. “It is very important for people to monitor that process,” she said.
The environmental worksheet information is available on MPCA’s website www.pca. state.mn.us/news/eaw/index.html and the air permit information is at www.pca.state.mn.us/news/data/index.cfm?PN=1 (scroll down to July 13).
Comments need to be filed in writing, by sending a letter, email or fax, by Sept. 10, 4:30 p.m. MPCA officials stress that the comments submitted on one document will not be transferred to the other (submit separate comments on the EAW and on the air permit).
Residents can send comments to:
For the air emissions permit: Project Manager Tarik Hanafy, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194, email@example.com. 651-757-2482 (voice), 651-297-2343 (fax).
For the EAW: Kevin Kain, same street address, firstname.lastname@example.org , 651-757-2404, same fax.
Contact information for Roseville officials: Mayor Craig Klausing, 651-308-8916, email@example.com; Roseville City Council Members: Amy Ihlan, 651-635-9152, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jeff Johnson, 651-788-5200, email@example.com; Dan Roe, 651-487-9654, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tammy Pust, 651-484-2573,email@example.com.