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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Days may be numbered for concrete plant

— The owners of a concrete mixing plant just off State Road 54 may have simply delayed the inevitable last year when they asked for a vested rights determination from the county.

Commissioners were well on their way to shutting down A+ Concrete last December for operating on land that has never been zoned for heavy industrial uses. Rather than seek a rezoning, the plant operator applied for “vested rights,” which would mean he has a common-law right to keep his business because he opened it in good faith and because the county’s zoning staff erred when they issued him a permit despite the improper zoning.

Homeowners from the neighboring Ashley Lakes subdivision brought the improper zoning to the county’s attention. Pasco’s zoning code allows wet mixed concrete plants only on land zoned for heavy industrial use.

Neighbors have complained about noise, vibrations, heavy truck traffic and dust.

Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein, in his recommendation to county commissioners, sided with the homeowners, saying they deserve relief from the negative impacts created by the plant.

“When county staff issued permits for structures/equipment related to the operation of some type of concrete batch plant on the site in 2006 and 2011, those permits were issued in error and in violation of the law,” Goldstein wrote, because a concrete batch plant of any type — wet or dry mix — is a heavy industrial use that is an inconsistent land use designation and zoning.

“A vested rights finding in this case would also be contrary to public policy,” he wrote.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the matter. If they deny the vested rights claim, the county would likely begin enforcement actions to close the business, Goldstein said.

“There’s other violations there besides just the zoning,” he said.

In all likelihood, the case will end up in court.

A+ Concrete sits just south of State Road 54 and east of Gunn Highway. The business is situated at the northeastern entrance to the Ashley Lakes community. It has been cited for air quality and stormwater issues by the Department of Environmental Protection, most recently on June 13.

The land, originally part of a 14-acre parcel, was rezoned in 1987 from an agricultural district to an agricultural-residential district. In 2003, the land was zoned as a mix of residential light and heavy industrial with certain conditions.

Those changes were made to allow that property to serve as a staging area for the widening of State Road 54.

Companies that leased the land in the past were also concrete-based businesses.

Plant operator Rob Brue said he invested more than $1.5 million in equipment for the wet-mix concrete plant. In addition, he signed a 10-year lease for the property in 2010.

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