Spokane’s Central Pre-Mix Concrete Co. wants to mine a sand deposit in Mead, but neighbors are against the proposal before the county hearing examiner, in part because the land is an old dump site.
A zone reclassification request is scheduled for public hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday before the Spokane County hearing examiner.
The hearing will be in the lower level of the county Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Ave.
Central Pre-Mix is asking that the zoning be changed from rural traditional to mineral lands on about 60 acres, a part of which was once a dump site.
Residents are concerned that mining the sand will disturb potential contamination from the historic dump. They fear that groundwater could be tainted as a result. They rely on wells for their own drinking water.
“We are so concerned. The aquifer is so shallow,” said Amy Wharf, one of the nearby residents.
Wharf and other neighbors said the dump may hold dangerous substances such as pesticides and other chemicals.
Old tires have popped up along the edges of the former dump that was started by the old Mead township and then turned over to the county.
“It’s hard to believe it is not polluted,” said Paul Wicklund, another neighbor.
He said that poison was put out to kill rats when the dump was accepting waste, and some of the garbage was burned in smoldering piles.
According to Wharf’s research, the county health department closed the dump in 1969 over pollution concerns.
K.C. Klosterman, director of community relations for Central Pre-Mix, said the mining plan will not disturb the old dump and will remain above any groundwater.
The Mead sand is a quality product, allowing the concrete company to keep its prices lower than if it had to import sand from elsewhere, he said.
Central Pre-Mix mines sand on property to the east of the proposed mine, but that supply is running out.
About 60 percent of the company’s concrete is used on public projects, Klosterman said.
The company has a lease agreement with the property owner to mine the sand around the old dump site alongside the BNSF Railway line north of Farwell Road.
The owner is Pinewood Properties One LLC, with Gregory Sicilia listed as the corporate agent.
In 1999, the county hearing examiner rejected a rezone request for the property, citing the impact of mining on the neighborhood and the safety of the road needed to haul away sand.
In addition, the hearing examiner acknowledged concerns about disturbing the dump site and a need to monitor potential contamination.
In 2001, county commissioners adopted new land-use plan under the state’s growth management law.
That plan designated the property as minerals land, which created the opportunity for mining.
The zone reclassification that is now before the hearing examiner is needed to obtain permits for the mine.
Klosterman said Central Pre-Mix has hired experts to study the land, and part of the work involved sinking test holes to check for contamination and groundwater levels.
The proposal calls for mining 30 acres of the 60-acre site and leaving the old dump site untouched.
Up to 2 million tons of sand are potentially available, according to the company’s application with the county. Annual sand extraction could total 150,000 tons a year.
Stormwater, dust and noise would be controlled under the mining plan, according to the application documents.
The plan calls for a buffer zone to keep mining activity out of the old dump area, Klosterman said.
The company’s lease agreement with the land owner requires a complete restoration. Top soil will be moved aside prior to mining and then reused as part of the restored landscape, the application said.
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