March 23, 2006 in Voices

Neighbors oppose DOT’s gravel mine plan nearby

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A group of neighbors is fighting a Department of Transportation proposal to pull most of the gravel it needs to build the North Spokane freeway from land adjacent to the new route.

Construction already has begun on the expressway, which will connect U.S. Highway 395 to U.S. Highway 2 and Interstate 90 through Hillyard.

State officials want to purchase 61 acres near Gerlach Road and Freya Street to mine gravel on the southern 25 acres of the property.

At a County Commission hearing last week, Brian Kasbar, who lives near the site, said neighbors are concerned about the noise and air pollution generated by rock-crushing, gravel-mining and asphalt-production.

“Why here?” asked Kasbar, a real estate agent. “Why in our neighborhood?”

Larry Larson, project engineer for the freeway, said the reason is simple: money.

“This is the biggest site that’s centrally located,” Larson said.

Not being able to use the land would mean contractors would have to provide their own gravel, Larson said.

“That would drive up cost.”

Kasbar contends that the county erred in how it notified neighbors about the proposal. County planners say they followed the law.

The transportation department submitted an application to build the site last summer. The county’s hearing examiner OK’d the project. However, limitations were placed on operations.

If commissioners agree, use of the site will have to stop by 10 on weeknights and 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Mining operations are prohibited on Sundays.

Neighbors appealed the examiner’s decision to the County Commission. After the recent hearing, members said they will issue a ruling on the property Tuesday. Their opinion could be appealed to Spokane County Superior Court.

Construction of the freeway is under way and the portion from Francis Avenue to Farwell Road is expected to open to traffic in late 2008.


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