ALEXANDRIA – One of the two controversial asphalt plants proposed for Alexandria has been withdrawn by the company after months of back-and-forth with local environmental advocates and township leaders.
The project, proposed by Shelly & Sands affiliate Mar-Zane Materials earlier this year, called for an existing portable asphalt plant to be relocated to the Martin Trucking property along Rt. 37 on the northwest edge of the village.
Mar-Zane is “not entertaining that anymore,” said Woody Fox, the St. Albans Township zoning inspector. “That doesn’t mean they won’t entertain a different spot somewhere else, but they’re not going to do it at the Martin property.”
The existing plant, currently operating south of Columbus near Grove City, already had the green light from the Environmental Protection Agency and did not need new permits in the relocation. Shelly & Sands told Fox they were no longer interested in the property earlier this month.
Fox said the proposal for the plant at the Martin site was “always just talk,” from Shelly & Sands.
“It was never a perfect spot [for them],” Fox said Thursday, Oct. 26. “Asphalt plants need several acres to operate properly.”
Mar-Zane did not return several phone messages from The Reporting Project seeking requests for comment.
The move by Shelly & Sands was celebrated by members of the grassroots Clean Air and Water for Alexandria/St. Albans Township group, which initially formed to address concerns related to two asphalt-plant proposals — the Mar-Zane plant and one proposed for along Rt. 37 on the south side of Alexandria.
“Praise the Lord!” said Elaine Robertson, a member of the group, when she learned the Shelly & Sands proposal was off the table. “I feel affirmed that we, together, have made a difference, that collectively Alexandria and our community have worked together and it means so much.”
One of the main concerns shared by officials and residents of Alexandria, Granville and Granville Township alike, is that the locations proposed for both asphalt plants are along Raccoon Creek, which helps recharge the wells from which Granville gets drinking water for Granville and Alexandria.
Though it appears the asphalt plant at the Martin Trucking site won’t come to fruition, community concerns remain about the other asphalt plant proposal along Tharp Road, introduced earlier this year by The Shelly Company subsidiary Scioto Materials.
In addition to the possible asphalt plant at the Tharp Road site, the City of New Albany has expressed interest in drilling test wells that could someday pump millions of gallons of water per day from the site, Licking County officials said.
“We are extremely concerned about Granville, and we will be working and finding out as much information as possible,” Robertson said. “We will always want to work on what’s best for our community, what’s best for our environment, what’s best for our families.”
The Shelly Company has not shared updated project plans with residents of the community, months after the company initially presented during a July St. Albans Board of Zoning Appeals meeting — nor has the company returned The Reporting Project’s requests for comment on the asphalt-plant proposal.
Though the Shelly Company has been quiet, it has not abandoned plans for the asphalt plant and is mulling over ideas for a plant on a different land parcel, Fox reported during the township trustee meeting on Oct. 10.
That company’s first proposal, which met significant pushback from members of the community and the St. Albans Board of Zoning Appeals, called for an asphalt plant on land zoned for agricultural use, owned by James and Colleen Geiger.
Now, the company is exploring the possibility of placing a plant on an adjacent Geiger-owned property already zoned for manufacturing, Fox said. That means the company will have to go through a new process of applying for a permit — something the company failed to do the first time, according to Thomas Frederick, the former St. Albans Township zoning inspector.
Frederick cited Scioto Materials for beginning construction of the plant on Tharp Road, just off Rt. 37, without a zoning permit in March.
That construction has since been undone, Fox said on Oct. 10.
Fox said Shelly is still deciding which parcel to select for the project, and it might file for a conditional use permit on the manufacturing property so long as there are no conflicts with regulations for construction in the floodplain.
“I don’t get over to the Geiger property every day,” Fox told attendees at the Oct. 10 meeting. “You guys [trustee meeting attendees] drive by it more often than I. … So if you guys see any development there, any movement or action, send me an email or call me.”
Members of the Clean Air and Water group are watching the site while keeping neighbors informed about the proposals.
The group is encouraging residents to participate in local trustee and zoning board meetings so they have a say in regional development as construction continues on the 1,000-acre, $20 billion Intel campus in western Licking County.
“This land is literally gold,” said Stephanie Taylor, a member of the Clean Air and Water for Alexandria/St. Albans Township group. “Everybody who is in government leadership has a pompom for Intel.”
As development moves across Licking County, some residents want to preserve the rural character of the region.
“There needs to be a place of natural beauty in all of this,” said Allison Riggs, an Alexandria resident, during a recent Clean Air and Water meeting. “That’s what I want St. Albans to be.”
Caroline Zollinger and Julia Lerner write for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s journalism program, which is sponsored in part by the Mellon Foundation. [email protected]