Draper Considering Gravel Pit Expansion At Point Of The Mountain
DRAPER, Utah – A proposed expansion of Geneva Rock’s gravel pit at Point of the Mountain is set to go before the Draper City Council. Residents and a group of doctors have line up to oppose the rezoning request.
Geneva Rock has applied to rezone 72.9 acres of its land from agricultural to manufacturing. In exchange, the company is offering to set aside 78.4 acres to form a conservation area on Steep Mountain, and build a new dirt road and parking area for recreation access.
The group Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment opposes the plan and wrote a letter to city officials in response, detailing its health concerns.
“Not only will Draper residents who breathe the dust and diesel exhaust from these operations have their health compromised, but the impact will be felt for most of the residents of Salt Lake and Utah Counties for the next 20-30 years,” the letter said.
Because of the steady winds blowing over Point of the Mountain, the group of doctors says dust is carried into Salt Lake and Utah counties on 80 percent of the days.
Questions regarding exposure to crystalline silica from gravel pit
“Crystalline silica, which is ubiquitous in gravel pit dust, causes destruction of lung tissue, and can increase susceptibility to tuberculosis and lung cancer,” the letter went on to say.
Given the unique geography of the area and the higher elevation of the proposed mining area, the group also doesn’t believe efforts to control dust will be successful.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment executive director Jonny Vasic expressed concern about the dust kicked up at the gravel pit.
“In our opinion, there’s almost nothing they can do to mitigate that—to knock it down—especially when the wind blows as hard as it does,” said Vasic.
Geneva Rock is one of a half dozen companies that operate alongside I-15 at Point of the Mountain. On its website, Geneva Rock responded to the concern about silica. They say all Utahns are exposed to silica from various sources.
“Exposure can happen at a gravel pit, baseball diamond, playground, hiking in the mountains, or out in the desert,” Geneva Rock said, adding that the company has not had any reported cases of workplace-related lung illnesses caused by silica.
Geneva Rock also argues that the gravel pit expansion was needed to keep up with demand for building supplies created by Point of the Mountain’s booming tech corridor called Silicon Slopes.
“Our products are mined here and are literally driven down the hill to build a home, to build a new school, to pave a new road,” said spokesperson Dave Kallas.
Kallas said that the gravel pit has a fixed limit on emissions and that the rezoning request does not change that.
“The biggest culprit in dust is not wind, it’s vehicle traffic on the dirt, and so we’ve eliminated that traffic,” he added. “We’ve invested millions in developing conveyor systems.”
Residents worry about dust, noise, property values
Draper resident Robert MacFarlane met with city leaders on Monday to voice his opposition to the zoning-change request. Besides the dust and noise, he worries about the gravel pit expansion decreasing the property values of nearby homes and negatively affecting the long-term plan for the area.
“People have choices,” MacFarlane said. “They can go to other cities. They can go to other parts of the Wasatch Front and if Draper approves this it’s not going to be as desirable as it could be. It’s not a strategic move toward a clean tech center.”
The Draper City Council will listen to a presentation from Geneva Rock and comments from citizens during its meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 12. The Draper City Hall is located at 1020 East Pioneer Road.
Learn more about the Geneva Rock application at draper.ut.us/geneva.
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