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Neighbors worry about health impacts of proposed gravel plant

Posted at 7:57 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 19:57:02-04

INDIANAPOLIS — In a battle over zoning, what matters most? Health or economic development? Or can you have both?

The Metropolitan Development Commission took on that issue to determine if a gravel processing plant would be able to operate in a west side neighborhood.

Jay Walters, owner of a property in the 2200 block of Montcalm, plans to lease part of his land to Contract LLC for the gravel processing plant. Residents in the area are leery of the proposed project. Those concerns include noise, dust and health.

Gregory Walston, 64, is a kidney transplant patient who lives nearby.

"They say it's gonna be safe," he said. "They start off saying it's gonna be safe, and as the years go by, it's a totally different thing."

The silica dust created from the gravel processing is what Paula Brooks of the Hoosier Environment Council is concerned about.

"It exacerbates heart conditions, asthma, diabetes and kidney diease," she said. "It's very serious. The mixture of the dust with diesel fumes is a problem."

Those comments are in sharp contrast with folks in the neighborhood who see the new business as an economic development boon that will create 50 new jobs.

"We partner with them as far as jobs coming in," Phyllis Tate said. "They've had held two job fairs for us. They've already hired several people from our neighborhood."

Tate discussed why she thinks the jobs are quality slots.

"Welding, steel fabrication, truck drivers, stone operation, robotics, cats, these are careers," Tate said. "These are just jobs flipping burgers, hoping you can make it paycheck-to-paycheck. That's why I'm supporting it."

That was apparently a winning argument. The Metropolitan Development Commission approved the re-zoning by a vote of 6-1 Wednesday.