Asphalt plant focus of Commission meeting

The licensure of an aggregate and hot mix asphalt plant in Spanish Valley was the topic of significant discussion at the November 5 meeting of the San Juan County Commission.

Commissioners felt pressured to act as they faced a November 8 deadline for public comment on the licensure decision by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

In the end, Commissioners did not act on a proposed resolution that would have opposed the licensure.

For many years, Spanish Valley has been the location of gravel, asphalt, and concrete operations for construction projects in San Juan and Grand counties.

In addition, Spanish Valley is also experiencing significant development pressure.

Public comment in favor of the proposed resolution was given by a number of Spanish Valley residents.

They expressed concern about the health impacts if the plant was licensed and that the licensure, if approved, would simply be renewed in perpetuity.

Public comment from those in support of the plant focused on the impact of its closure on construction projects throughout southeast Utah.

Ben Musselman said the pits are essential to all aspects of construction in the greater San Juan and Grand county areas.

Speaking for the regional director of the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Musselman said that UDOT would like the Commission to support rather than oppose the existing asphalt pit.

Scoot Flannery, a civil engineer in the county said if the county opposes the pit, “we are shooting ourselves in the foot.  This will increase the cost of projects.”

Ryan Holyoak, who has permits for an adjacent plant, said, “I see the future, and the future is not good if you oppose this.  There will be a lot of pain and suffering for this county if you set this precedent.”

Doug Allen expressed concerns about anti-business policies, stating, “We are facing increased property taxes by those who pay, and you are taking away businesses that will pay property tax and increase that tax base.”

The San Juan County Planning Commission is working on a series of ordinances that would help govern the development of the area.  The plans may be considered at the November 17 Commission meeting.

Planning Director Walter Bird briefed the Commission on the Spanish Valley ordinances.  A public hearing on the proposed ordinances was held on October 30 by the San Juan County Planning Commission.

Bird reported that a number of problems with mapping issues were identified at the meeting.  Several properties were bisected by two planning zones. Bird said the maps will be adjusted.  

After the changes are made, the Planning Commission will meet again on November 14 to discuss the ordinances.  Bird said, “I think the intent of the Planning Commission is to approve the ordinances so the County Commission can discuss them on November 19.”

Bird added that aside from the mapping issues, the major concern in the Planning Commission with the proposed Spanish Valley ordinances is about the Dark Sky language, which he said has grown from four pages to 20 pages.

Commissioners asked about what will happen if the planning commission does not act before a six-month moratorium expires on commercial development along Highway 191 in Spanish Valley.

“The worst case scenario is the moratorium lapses and we have the same zoning we have now,” said Bird.  “We will move forward until we can change that.”

There were a number of crews filming the Commission meeting, which was held on election day.  Voters in the county were participating in a single issue election that could result in the creation of a new form of county government.

Kirk Nielson, of Javiation, discussed development opportunities at the Cal Black Airport.

Capital improvement plans for the existing airport include runway reconstruction, since the 30-year-old pavement is starting to deteriorate.

Other projects include moving the automated weather system and replacing the taxiway and apron.

The first step is to design the new projects.  The projects, when approved, are paid with roughly 90 percent from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and five percent from the State of Utah.

Nielson said the FAA has given the nod on the initial projects and anticipates providing funding in the future.

Commission Chairman Kenneth Maryboy welcomed State Representative Phil Lyman to the meeting.  Maryboy stated that the last time he recognized Lyman and acknowledged his hard work, community members scolded them and said Lyman and Maryboy had attacked each other.  

Maryboy said, “It is not so.  He is doing his job and does what he does as we elected him to the position.”

Lyman addressed the Commission, stating that he was developing a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would carve out incentives for under-performing counties.

In other public comment, Steve Pehrson once again expressed concern about road and street addresses on the reservation portion of San Juan County.

Perhson told Commissioner Maryboy to stop knocking on doors and start knocking them down in order to address the road situation.

Hank Stevens, President of the Navajo Mountain Chapter, expressed a number of general concerns, including about damage to an ancestral trail from the Navajo Mountain area into Glen Canyon.


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