UPDATE: There will be a special meeting of the city council on the investigation of the concrete plant. The meeting will be Thursday, August 3, 2006, at 7 pm in Council Chambers (third floor of City Hall).
Is this the same concrete plant that they tried to put on the other side of the city? If it didn’t belong there, it most certainly does not belong in Ward 2, where we are densely populated. And, as the article points out, this proposed plant would be on land that floods easily and is dangerously close to the Pawtuxet River, to residential homes, and to two community schools. Where, might I ask, was Mayor Laffey when this building permit was granted, to put a concrete plant in a location that could be a huge environmental hazard, would likely affect the school that his children attend, and could potentially decrease home values of his own neighborhood? The Herald reports:
With an address on Marine Drive that may not technically exist and a variety of preemptive complaints from concerned neighbors off of the Pontiac Avenue area, Cullion Concrete Corp. has become the subject of an investigation pushed by the City Council Monday night. The council wants the building department to look into how Cullion was granted a permit to begin a batching plant last spring.
The council chambers was packed with more than 100 people, most wearing a sticker showing a cement truck mixer being crossed out in red. Several area residents expressed their concerns about the plant’s construction disturbances to the area surrounding Pontiac Avenue and to the wetlands along the adjacent Pawtuxet River. Sponsored by Council President Aram Garabedian, a resolution was passed to investigate the legality of the fast track consideration for the permit, its compliance with state law, the Cranston Charter and city’s code of ordinances.
“The reason why that permit went quickly was because of the accelerated process to meet the deadline,” said Garabedian, referring to the ordinance adopted last March that banned new cement and asphalt plants anywhere in the city.
Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27) was present at the meeting to say that she is against the construction as well. She said there are air quality issues that may affect two area schools located near this plant, as well the CLCF area.
“It’s not OK to put a concrete factory near water,” she said.
At the City Council meeting in March, the members unanimously passed an ordinance banning new concrete plants in Cranston due to â€œa negative impact in terms of emissions; hazardous materials that could carry air-borne toxins â€¦ particularly crystalline silica” and “contaminants from runoff; use of intensive fuel; and the overall basic intrusive nature of these facilities, the noise, which is a separate report, as well as traffic flow.”
Garabedian said that since the word “concrete” wasn’t used in the original ordinance, which is a combination of gravel and cement, an additional one was made three months later.
“As it is in my opinion, the permit should be ruled invalid,” he said.
Phone calls made to Building Official Kerry Anderson’s office on Tuesday were not returned; in addition, nobody from that department showing up to speak at the council meeting.
Cullion lawyer Robert D. Murray is representing Permitting Supervisor Charles A. Horbert. Murray was present to address the council, saying that terms like “fast track” denote special consideration.
“The building department has 15 days to review building permit applications,” he said. “In this case, the permit was issued on the 15th day so tell me where was the fast track?”
“It is unfair to cast aspersions in a resolution with drawn conclusions and then launch an investigation to justify a predetermined result,” said Murray. “There are other more appropriate means to seek out information without the dramatic course charted in this resolution.”
The residents, however, just want the plant gone.
“This entire project deserves appropriate zoning,” said resident Ted Weller. “The industrial can’t be abutting residentials.”
City Council candidate Mark Lucas addressed the council, saying that commercial entities have to be aware that there is no buffer zone in between residential and industrial areas.
Another resident, David Fair, said that when it rains on this property it will be under water because it is next to the Pawtuxet River.
“A batch concrete plant will flood hundreds of gallons of high pH water [that] will wash out into the Pawtuxet and Pocasset rivers,” said Fair. “[In addition] the average plant moving 250 cubic yards of concrete per day would require hundreds of trucks per day.”
Many other citizens expressed their concern about the increase of the traffic flow in that area since the construction of the plant began, as well as the way the weight might strain the nearby bridge over the Pawtuxet.
Residents said they have been bearing the noise of trucks backing up before 7 a.m. and cement dust in the air. Another resident said the construction has increased the amount of wildlife wandering into the neighborhood.
Garabedian said this is the most outrageous building permit in years, there is no such address in the city or on Marine Drive and the city has failed in enforcing its ordinances. The taxes on the property, he said, total $5,401 and there is flooding all the time that rises up to five feet.
“Before you get an address, you can’t have a building permit,” said Garabedian.
Cullion halted construction on June 8, according to Attorney Murray.
With Councilwoman Maria Bucci absent, the council voted 8 to 0 to open the investigation.