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Variance request denied for proposed concrete plant in Falcon

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 20:55:56-04

EL PASO COUNTY — Plans to build a concrete plant in Falcon have come to a halt.

On Tuesday, El Paso County Commissioners denied a variance for Pete Lien & Sons to build a plant in an agricultural area near Judge Orr and Stapleton.

During Tuesday's meeting one resident said, "Having this built in our neighborhood would be a hardship."

Over a dozen people spoke out against the proposed concrete ready-mix batch plant.

Melanie Berg said, "Falcon residents are asking that our rural way of life be respected."

However, Danielle Wiebers, the executive technical director of environmental & safety affairs for Pete Lien & Sons, said, "I do believe it's fair to say that it would be a hardship for Pete Lien & Sons to have to drastically downsize its business in El Paso County because of a lack of any reasonable place to put a batch plant near where its needed."

Wiebers shared that the company looked at other properties in the county to build the plant, but each one had some sort of issue. When it came to the property at Judge Orr and Stapleton "the variance of use process was presented to us as the only option."

Residents asked that commissioners deny that variance request because they believe the plant would have negative impacts on health, traffic, the overall look of the area, and property values.

Stefanie MacNicol said, "I have a five-year-old who's going to grow up on that land breathing in that stuff."

Tammy Fields said, "This proposed project would increase heavy traffic level tenfold in this area...this area is a residential, hobby, farm, agricultural area that has custom-built homes and properties valued between $500,000 to over a million dollars and up."

As for health impacts Wiebers said, "We have powder controls on the cement so everything that goes up into the silo is controlled through a bag house, so any air that's displaced as we're loading things pneumatically into the plant is controlled."

One of the company's final arguments was that "denial of this variance will result in a loss of production capacity, business, and jobs. Approval will mean holding on to the business and jobs we have and adding new positions."

But after hours of public comment commissioners ultimately voted unanimously to deny the variance request. It's a win for residents, but for Pete Lien & Sons - it's back to the drawing board.