By Jamie Leary
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – One of the nation’s top suppliers of asphalt and concrete says its Fort Collins lease is up. It’s now seeking county approval for a parcel of land in the middle of the town’s booming Mulberry Corridor.
Martin Marietta currently operates a ready mix concrete plant off of Zigler Road in Fort Collins. The land it hopes to relocate to, near South Timberline Road and Mulberry, is situated within Larimer County.
It’s a good move for the company but a shock to the growing neighborhoods it would be situated in the middle of.
“I agree we need concrete plants, we need production, we need to build these things but not in an area that’s so populated,” said Michelle Elder.
Elder has lived in the Dry Creek subdivision for six years. She has a view from her porch of the farmland that could be home to the new Marietta plant.
Since she has been there, more homes subdivisions have popped up, there’s a school and a fire department and at least another 800 homes slated for the newest subdivision, Mosaic.
The area has seen industrial growth but in recent years it has been outnumbered by residential.
Neighbors have a wide range of concerns, including pollution to the air and their groundwater as well as noise and traffic.
Marietta plans to run production 24 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. While it says it will limit production outside of normal hours to 15 percent, the “normal hours” aren’t normal for Elder.
“They were trying to make regular hours be 4 a.m., who the hell is normally up at 4 a.m.? “ said Elder. “I kind of feel fortunate that I’m not right on top of that.”
Elder had surgery just over a week ago. She had part of her lung removed in an effort to treat stage 1 lung cancer. Her biggest concerns are her health and potential pollution from the plant. She’s worried about dust in the air as well as contamination of the water table.
“There’s a creek bed that runs right through there,” she said. “The problem is they kept wanting to talk about what they were going to test after they were already in production. Well after they’re in production, we’re not going to have a say.”
Marietta held a recent public meeting where it took an enormous amount of feedback from residents and businesses. It says it’s committed to its neighbors.
In a statement, James Sharn, Marietta’s Director of Natural Resources said:
Martin Marietta’s proposed Ready Mix plant in Larimer County was designed specifically with enhanced features to minimize any noise, storm water runoff, dust, traffic and other characteristics that can be objectionable. We shared our initial plans with County Commissioners and our neighbors at the Board meeting on August 27, 2018. We subsequently met with our neighbors again to discuss the proposed facility and we received valuable input during these conversations, which we are evaluating. Martin Marietta has a long history of caring about the communities in which we operate and our employees and customers live, and the environment.
Elder knew there was potential for industrial development in her neighborhood but thought the residential growth would be taken into consideration for future development.
For Elder, It’s not just the fact that a concrete plant could be built in front of her home, it’s the size.
The current Marietta plant of Ziegler is within city limits. The property has a 40 foot variance. The new location has a 90-foot variance. Which means Marietta can and will likely increase the current tower by 30 percent.
“That will put it in one of the top 10 tallest buildings within the city of Fort Collins,” said David Eisenbraun, strategic Planner for the city of Loveland. He is also president of the Timbervine HOA. It’s one of the subdivisions that would be neighbors with the proposed plant.
His argument is similar to Elder’s. Eisenbraun says both the site zoning and the land use plan are 30 years old. The area is quickly changing to residential and while he’s not optimistic the plant will find a new location, that’s the solution he would like.
Eisenbraun says he is also concerned about fewer “checks and balances” for Marietta. Because the property is located within the county, the regulations for noise mitigation are much lower than the city.
The county is holding a meeting on Oct. 15 with no public forum. Marietta will have time to present plans with regard to the public feedback it received.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.