Crown Asphalt soon may begin heating asphalt for shipping at the Crysen Oil Refinery, 2355 S. 1100 West, a process the company says will emit no odors to trouble nearby residents.
Not all of the prospective neighbors are convinced."There is no chance for vapors to get out of this (heating) box," said Dave McSwain, co-owner of Crown Asphalt.
Asphalt will be heated in sealed furnaces that reach temperatures so intensely hot that no vapors are even produced, he said.
McSwain understands residents' concerns, because other experimental techniques at refineries have smelled bad. But the process anticipated by Crown has existed for many years and has proved odor-free, he said.
"I understand their skepticism, but we want to be good corporate neighbors," he said.
Some residents disagree.
"To even argue that there will be no odor is ridiculous," said Todd Weiler, who lives within a half-mile of the refinery. "We already live in the armpit of the refineries. We don't need another one."
A practicing civil attorney, Weiler is helping organize an appeal to the City Council regarding the proposed refining process. The Planning Commission already has approved the conditional-use application, a move that Weiler said is a mistake.
Conditional-use permits go before the City Council only if a formal appeal is filed. In the Crown Asphalt case, the council initially wanted to appeal it, but following extensive discussion, decided it was best if the residents appealed it. Realizing a delay would not benefit either side, Councilman Ted Cahoon personally appealed.
The council's refusal to appeal it as a whole body was based on the belief that if the permit were eventually rejected, it would result in a long and fruitless legal battle, a point Weiler disagrees with.
"If the council denies something for the general welfare and safety of its residents, they can about get away with murder," said Weiler, who has lost court battles to cities because of that very clause.
Some council members disagree.
"If I were these guys (Crown Asphalt owners), I would sue the pants off of the city, because they have every leg to stand on," said Councilman Darin Hicks during the Aug. 18 meeting.
Hicks' comments elicited some protests from other council members who felt that such comments were best left to a closed session. Hicks, however, disagreed.
"Let's not be so ignorant to think they don't know the legal options," Hicks continued. "We are not going to win this battle."
Previous to formally filing an appeal, Cahoon responded to Hicks' comments.
"They (Crown Asphalt) gave you a dog and pony show, and you bought it 100 percent," he said. "You can't heat the asphalt up, pour it into packages and not have it stink."
Cahoon also noted that some of the newer residents had every right to complain. The city recently approved a 240-home subdivision within a few hundred yards of the refinery.
"I don't think it's right we approved that subdivision and then we approve this," he said.
The appeal hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m., in Woods Cross City Hall, 1555 S. 800 West.