DEM Issues Statement Regarding Concrete Plant

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management issued the following statement on August 30, 2007. It seems that the statement was issued, at least in part, as a response to the large number of requests they received for a hearing on the proposed concrete plant. Here is the statement:

DEM TO HEAR ORAL ARGUMENTS RELATED TO MOTION TO DISMISS THE APPEAL OF A WETLANDS PERMIT FOR PROPOSED CRANSTON CONCRETE DRY-BATCHING FACILITY ON SEPTEMBER 11

PROVIDENCE — The Department of Environmental Management’s Administrative Adjudication Division (AAD) will hear oral arguments next month on a motion to dismiss the appeal of a DEM wetlands permit granted to Karleetor, LLC for a proposed concrete dry-batching facility on Marine Drive in Cranston. The session will take place on Tuesday, September 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 300 at DEM Headquarters, 235 Promenade Street in Providence.

The City of Cranston and Cranston Citizens for Responsible Zoning and Development, a neighborhood advocacy group, have filed an appeal of the wetlands permit with DEM AAD. In turn, the permit applicant, Karleetor, LLC has filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, saying that the state’s freshwater wetlands regulations allow only applicants to appeal DEM decisions on freshwater wetlands applications to AAD. The oral arguments on the appeal were originally scheduled to be heard on September 4, but were continued to September 11 at the requests of the City of Cranston and CCRZD. The September 11 session is not a hearing on the merits of the DEM wetlands permit. Rather, it is a legal session during which time attorneys representing the involved parties will present oral arguments on the applicant’s motion to dismiss. Non-applicants such as the City of Cranston and CCRZD have other avenues of recourse both in the courts and at the local level.

Does this mean that the City of Cranston and CCRZD are not invited to this hearing and cannot present arguments there? Who are the “involved parties” who can be represented by attorneys? Does this mean just the attorneys for Cullion/Karleetor will be present?

Returning to the statement:

Throughout this week, DEM has received numerous requests from Cranston residents asking for a public hearing on the proposed concrete facility. DEM is not the appropriate venue for such a hearing, as the matter is substantially a local zoning issue which belongs before the Cranston Zoning Board of Review. The zoning board, however, has failed to take up the matter because of a series of conflicts of interest on the board. The City of Cranston has sole authority and complete control over the current zoning of the Marine Drive site as commercial/industrial property, and issued a building permit for the concrete facility in March 2006. The City of Cranston is also responsible for exercising judgment on the compatibility of the land with abutting uses and addressing residents’ concerns about increased traffic, noise, and other environmental nuisance from the proposed concrete facility.

DEM Wetlands Permit Places Significant Requirements and Restrictions on Facility

Following a careful review of potential wetland impact concerns, which included several visits to the property, DEM’s Office of Water Resources concluded that the activities proposed would not significantly alter wetland functions and values, and therefore issued a permit to Karleetor, LLC on April 9. While DEM was cognizant of the broad issues and concerns related to the application, the Department was obliged to process this application like all others submitted to it pursuant to and consistent with all applicable laws and regulations.

None of the proposed construction or operational activities is located in or directly affects a vegetated wetland, or a perimeter or riverbank wetland. The proposed concrete plant is greater than 600 feet from either the Pawtuxet River or the Pocasset River and is more than 250 feet from the nearest vegetated wetlands. It is also greater than 400 feet to any FEMA designated floodway associated with the adjacent rivers. DEM determined that because there was a preexisting commercial use on the property with preexisting floodplain impacts, the proposed concrete dry-batching project, in conjunction with the strict freshwater wetland permit terms and conditions, would not increase previously allowed wetland impacts.

DEM has placed significant requirements and restrictions on this project to protect public health, safety, and the environment. Best management practices to handle any excess concrete produced, cleaning of vehicles, collection of dust and sediment, and control runoff have been incorporated into the project design. Appropriate conditions have been included in the permit to assure potential water quality impacts during a flooding event are avoided or minimized. Finally, other environmental concerns potentially associated with the project including air, hazardous waste handling, and noise and dust controls are the purview of other applicable regulations or ordinances.

In addition to the wetlands permit, Karleetor, LLC must obtain both air pollution and stormwater permits from DEM before it can begin operating. These permit applications have not yet been submitted to DEM. DEM will review these applications carefully to insure that the proposed activities are protective of public health, safety, and the environment.

So it appears that it is possible that Karleetor will not be issued air pollution or stormwater permits, but I would imagine that their attorneys have already checked into this and feel relatively confident that all of the permits will be granted. Otherwise, why would they continue to invest in this project?

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4 responses

  1. “…abutting homeowners or affected municipalities can’t because as non-applicants, they are precluded from having standing to challenge the permit…”

    Call me cynical, but it strikes me that this preclusion (proper term?) is exactly the point. Especially in this particular case, where it seems like a few very well connected people really want this plant to happen.

  2. Based on that quote it would appear that if we decide to add an improvement to our house/property, why would our neighbors have to be notified if they are not an applicant.

    DEM permit was not in place from the beginning.
    We know Kerry Anderson signed the Permit under Laffey Administration. We know it this Permit NEVER went before a committee to be scruitined based on the complexity of the facility. We know under the Insignificant Alteration Permit Cullion violated some of the requirements stated. We now know Cullion needs a air pollution or stormwater permit and now there is MAGNIFING Glass on them = they won’t get it based on their current Permit. So what’s the deal Klaus, are you blowing propaganda or do you know something about the “connected people”. Personally I think it’s important to put the scarlett letter smack on their front door and put the microphone on their doorstep to find out WHY? Rather than discuss publically, feel free to e-mail me directly at sarena1964@yahoo.com I would be interested in if you know something I may not yet…or it’s just what you summize?

  3. Klaus, that’s precisely the point – if Karleetor can narrow/eliminate those who can appeal DEM’s permit, then it’s clear sailing on this one issue. Of course the building permit issued by the city and on appeal before the ZBR is a different issue, assuming that it ever gets to that point.

    But you raise the broader and more serious question – why is this happening at all? It’s appropriate to blame Laffey and Anderson, but what happened after them? The democratic city council didn’t do too much, and the current Mayor did even less. If the ZBR hears the CCRZD’s appeal by Christmas, it might qualify as a miracle of the season.

    At some point, an independent objective investigation must be conducted into what happened and why, if for no other reason that such procedures not be followed in the future. Of course, we should all live so long.

    If I were a cynic, I’d say that there is a concerted effort to sweep the details of this sad affair under the proverbial rug. Why that would be so is anyone’s guess. Moreover, there is no doubt that one party, Karleetor, is trying to delay a final reckoning on the issues in the hope that the citizens and city will cease their opposition. Not exactly an original tactic, but often effective. What I don’t understand is why the city hasn’t tried to “force tempo” in this game and force Karleetor into doing something it doesn’t want to do? Instead, the city seems to wittingly or unwittingly played into Karleetor’s hands by being reactive to Karleetor’s moves. Then again, maybe I just don’t appreciate the subtle strategy in this case.

  4. Well, I AM a cynic, and it’s things like this that make me so.

    The thing that truly boggles me is the way this seems to transcend party; it’s a bi-partisan effort for gov’t officials to roll over and play dead.

    Why?

    I wouldn’t exactly hold my breath waiting for that investigation, Mr Schoos. But I would love to see it happen.

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