SAGLE, Idaho — Plans for a controversial asphalt plant in North Idaho are moving forward despite neighbors’ pleas to stop it.
The Interstate Concrete plant is slated to be built over part of an existing gravel pit in Sagle, not far from Highway 95. The area is near several homes and those neighbors are concerned about potential noise and odor coming from the plant.
On Friday morning, dozens of neighbors made their case before Bonner County Commissioners, but their appeals were ultimately shot down. Testimony from neighbors took over two hours. Tempers were close to flaring at times. Commissioners gave just three minutes for each public comment and reminded some neighbors that it was their job to follow the law.
Officials with both the county and the gravel pit said that it's zoned correctly and everything is legal. Neighbors questioned that saying that their health could be at stake.
"Those smells are toxic, they are deadly. They cause birth defects. They keep me out of my own personal yard," one neighbor said.
Those living nearby said prior times over the years when asphalt was temporarily in the area, it was a hazard.
"Things started happening with my health. I started having major health issues," neighbor Corene Jones said.
Interstate Concrete was granted a conditional use permit for the plant during the fall of 2018. While the project had prior approval from planning and zoning, neighbors expressed concern that an asphalt plant would be noisy, smelly and toxic. They questioned claims that it was properly permitted and wondered if it would affect water quality. Interstate reps said studies showed an asphalt plant there would be safe.
"The taxpayers within Bonner County, as well as all Idaho taxpayers in the area will benefit from lower cost civil infrastructure projects should we be allowed this opportunity," said Interstate Concrete General Manager Jared Wise.
Company leaders said a plant at the location would allow them to be more efficient and reduce trips on Highway 95 to get asphalt from other plants in the area. Ultimately, commissioners sided with planning and zoning and upheld the conditional use permit. The decision was one not welcomed by neighbors.
For now, it's not entirely clear when the asphalt plant will come to fruition. Staff at the commissioner’s office said approvals from other agencies and officials are needed before construction can begin.