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Young city, old company, big problems ; Edgewood: Dispute over industrial recycling continues; [South Sound Edition]
ROB TUCKERThe News TribuneTacoma, Wash.: Aug 29, 2004. pg. B.01
Abstract (Document Summary)

The conflict involves three suburban leaders: Fife Sand & Gravel Co. owners Mike Kelley, Sr., who is the mayor of Fife, and [Mike Kelley, Jr.], a former member of the Edgewood City Council; and John Powers, an Edgewood city councilman and former mayor. Powers is among six or seven neighbors who have concerns about dust and noise from company operations.

On Wednesday, the company won its appeal of a related permit that Edgewood had revoked. The city hearing examiner's decision allows the company to build a berm with a fence on top to better shield neighbors from noise and dust. The berm also protects company operations against possible stormwater overflow from the neighborhood up the hill, said Mike Kelley Sr.

Edgewood officials say they've received noise and dust complaints about Fife Sand & Gravel operations, but not many. The company said the complaints began after berm and fence project started about two years ago. Edgewood stopped the construction, but now the company has a hearing examiner's approval to finish the job.

Full Text (689   words)
Copyright The McClatchy Company Aug 29, 2004

Fife Sand & Gravel

A permit dispute between Edgewood and Fife Sand & Gravel Co. is part of a wider conflict involving the young city and the company, which has been around 38 years longer than Edgewood.

It also illustrates what can happen when a growing suburban city butts up against a loud and dirty - but perfectly legal - business that sits on prime real estate.

Edgewood, incorporated in 1996, has targeted the company's permitted gravel mine and industrial recycling areas for residential uses. The City Council did it to help meet state growth management rules.

Fife Sand & Gravel, however, feels like it's between a rock and a hard place.

It has a 1979 surface mining permit that expires next year, and will need to apply to the city to renew it.

"We have a huge amount of uncertainty," said Mike Kelley, Jr., a co-owner.

At the heart of the dispute are complaints by some residents about noise and dust and their views of the Puyallup Valley being disturbed - and the company's difficulty in trying to resolve all these problems at once.

The conflict involves three suburban leaders: Fife Sand & Gravel Co. owners Mike Kelley, Sr., who is the mayor of Fife, and Mike Kelley Jr., a former member of the Edgewood City Council; and John Powers, an Edgewood city councilman and former mayor. Powers is among six or seven neighbors who have concerns about dust and noise from company operations.

Fife Sand & Gravel employs about 20 people and maintains a 110- acre surface mining operation. But two-thirds of its business these days is in the recycling of petroleum-contaminated soil, waste lumber, used concrete and asphalt, said Mike Kelley Jr.

Edgewood doesn't want to put the company out of business, said Mayor Bill Evans. But the city can regulate the industrial recycling operation, especially in response to complaints about dust and noise, he said.

On Wednesday, the company won its appeal of a related permit that Edgewood had revoked. The city hearing examiner's decision allows the company to build a berm with a fence on top to better shield neighbors from noise and dust. The berm also protects company operations against possible stormwater overflow from the neighborhood up the hill, said Mike Kelley Sr.

The city initially granted the permit two years ago and then revoked it later after neighbors complained about the berm and fence and the lack of notice.

A handful of homeowners overlooking the pit and the scenic Puyallup Valley oppose the 10-foot-high structure. Joe Smith, one neighbor, has told authorities that the noise doesn't bother him, but said he's concerned about losing property value if the berm and fence obstruct his view.

Councilman Powers, who has lived for 19 years in a home overlooking the pit, said the industrial recycling machinery should be enclosed in structures. He said he deals with noise and dust from company operations at times, but he's willing to make concessions to protect his view.

"I'm their neighbor and I expected to be treated like their neighbor," he said.

The city has no view protection regulations.

The company said city regulations don't allow the size of building needed to enclose recycling machinery. City officials said the company hasn't applied for a building permit.

Mike Kelley Jr., said the company has moved some recycling equipment and keeps noise below the highest allowed decibel levels. But trespassers have cut noise-buffering trees on company property over the years, apparently to improve their views. So the company plans to complete the berm and fence as a replacement buffer.

Edgewood officials say they've received noise and dust complaints about Fife Sand & Gravel operations, but not many. The company said the complaints began after berm and fence project started about two years ago. Edgewood stopped the construction, but now the company has a hearing examiner's approval to finish the job.

Despite the ongoing dispute, the city and the company have agreed to talk about some sort of development agreement that might help resolve some of the issues, both sides said.

- - -

Rob Tucker: 253-597-8374

rob.tucker@mail.tribnet.com

Credit: The News Tribune

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

People:   Kelley, Mike,  Powers, John
Companies:   Fife Sand & Gravel Co
Section:   South Sound/Local
Text Word Count   689
Document URL:    

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