Neighbors have gripes about gravel

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Public meeting

What: The Vancouver City Council will hear public testimony on the gravel quarry’s development agreement.

When: 7 p.m. Monday.

Where: Vancouver City Hall, 415 W. Sixth St.

Renèe Anttila and her neighbors agree: The best kind of gravel quarry to live next to is one that isn’t being actively mined seven days a week.

For years -- the entire 9 that Anttila has lived in her home in the First Place Neighborhood -- that was the case with the quarry adjacent to her property. That is, until last fall, when Tapani Underground of Battle Ground purchased the pit and began mining the rock for use in the construction at state Highway 500 at St. John’s Boulevard.

Now, the site at Northeast 18th Street and Northeast 155th Avenue is bustling every day with the sound of trucks loading gravel, dumping dirt and revving away.

“It was so noisy yesterday, you couldn’t hold a conversation back there,” Anttila said, referring to her backyard, where, just behind a wooden fence, runs one of the roads for loading trucks.

The work stirs up dust that accumulates in her home. She’s had to change her home’s air filters once a month, up from the quarterly chore it once was.

Yet, there’s an end in sight: The company said the quarry will be tapped out by the end of the year, meaning the noise and dust will soon come to an end. It also needs up to two more years to finish reclaiming the site to sell for redevelopment, which will involve

trucks bringing fill dirt and more equipment spreading and rolling it out.

But to do it, Tapani needs the Vancouver City Council to approve a three-year extension to the site’s development agreement, which it is set to do Monday.

So neighbors, including Anttila, have spent the last month at public hearings, asking that the agreement include concessions for them.

And while it isn’t a perfect compromise, Vancouver Planning Manager Chad Eiken said the new agreement contains some clauses that may help.

Tapani will work seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., at least until work on Highway 500 is finished. After that, they have agreed to not mine on Sundays.

Workers must regularly water the mine during dry months; add rock to roads to keep dust down; and follow a 10 mph speed limit.

While Anttila said she doesn’t believe drivers will stick to the speed limit -- “Who’s going to enforce it?” she asked -- she’s mostly satisfied with the new agreement.

“Tapani has been amazing with how willing they have been to cooperate,” she said. “What I can hope for is that (the city council) on not allow them to mine seven days a week.”

Tapani Underground did not return calls for comment this week.

The development agreement will also call for the company to fix several areas on Northeast 155th Avenue where the road has cracked after years of use by heavy trucks, Eiken said.

The road has a condition score of 18 out of 100, making it a failed road.

While the city would like to see the road replaced, “Tapani would probably argue that it’s not their mess to fix,” as they recently purchased the quarry, Eiken said.

The Tapani quarry has been around since the 1970s, and was owned by the Schmidt family before, Eiken said.

Vancouver now restricts where new gravel quarries may be located to one overlay district that spans from Northeast First to Northeast 18th streets, and Northeast 172nd to Northeast 192nd avenues. Eiken said there aren’t any applications for new quarries in the district.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.