Following more than two hours of public comment, the City Council postponed a decision on Crown Asphalt's request for a conditional-use permit to package refined asphalt at 1710 W. 2600 South.
"We need to digest all of the information," said Mayor Jerry Larrabee, following the public hearing. The decision will likely be made during a special City Council meeting Thursday, Sept. 10.Primary among concerns for residents was the possibility that packaging asphalt will result in putrid odors, ruining backyard barbecues and threatening the health of residents.
"My experience does not make it easy to believe we won't have odors," said 50-year resident Paul Hunter.
To help assuage those concerns, almost an hour of the hearing was devoted to a presentation by representatives of Crown Asphalt, who explained the process by which the plant will not release any odors to surrounding neighborhoods. Essentially, any action that causes vapors will happen inside an airtight blowing still, and all vapors will be trapped, treated, recycled and treated again before escaping, said Mark McSwain, co-owner of Crown Asphalt.
Throughout the meeting, McSwain addressed many of the concerns raised by residents, attempting to ease their fears.
"If we can work together, I think we can co-exist peacefully," he said. "We want to be good neighbors."
Although the majority of speakers opposed the plant, a few spoke in defense of the operation.
"It would be great to send all of the industries to the moon, but we can't," said Robert Moore, who lives near two refineries.
The necessity of heavy industry means that it needs to go somewhere, and currently, Woods Cross is a perfectly legitimate location, Moore said.
"If it smells, I'm against it," he said. "But if they comply with all of the regulations, and they act responsibly, I can't oppose it."
Among the contentions of the residents was that the planning commission didn't adhere to the stipulations for granting a conditional use permit, a move that would allow the council to deny the permit. Conditional use permits only need planning and zoning approval, unless an appeal is filed.
In this case, Councilman Ted Cahoon filed the appeal, which allowed the issue to be heard but eliminated Cahoon from the discussion and voting because of a conflict of interest.
An additional problem is that the city recently approved subdivisions near the refinery, which demonstrates the city's desire to eliminate heavy industry from the area, said Todd Weiler, a lawyer and resident who is leading the opposition.
"Protect those people who bought those houses," Weiler said. "Otherwise, they will have refining in their backyards."
The special meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Woods Cross City Hall, 1550 S. 800 West.