Melvin L. Joseph seeks variance for Concrete Plant in Georgetown

Sussex County Online User Forums: Sussex County Delaware Discussion Forum: Melvin L. Joseph seeks variance for Concrete Plant in Georgetown
By Brenda Thompson on Wednesday, October 02, 2002 - 02:41 pm:

I attended the hearing on Monday, September 30th, to review if Melvin L. Joseph Construction Company would receive a variance for a concrete plant. When I attended the hearing for his asphalt plant, there were around 150 people in attendance. I remember people in the foyer, lobby, steps, and sidewalk that couldn't make it inside. After hours of discussion and opposition, Mr. Joseph received his variance. So I guess I understand somewhat why only one neighbor and myself came to the hearing that night.
I'm not very familiar with the way these things go, but what I found out was disturbing to me. You can't just raise issues and questions about a project that could prove to be harmful to the immediate residents, such as dust emissions that can lead to respiratory problems, asthma, and maybe after long exposures, Silicosis. The council only votes on what is presented that night. They never suggest a continuance to discover more information. I couldnât just raise a question that the concrete plant could use chemicals that could contaminate surface wells and water. Mr. Joseph argued that the concrete plant would only be using those natural materials needed. There would be no use of lime or quick setting agents. In order to make concrete, you need cement, small stones (sand), and water. He assures us that he wonât add any ingredients other than that, but what about the cement ingredients themselves. Cements can contain Crystalline Silica, a human carcinogen. That doesnât sound good since Silica is the main cause of Silicosis. So what kind of cement will this plant be using? We donât know. Those details arenât decided yet, heâs just hoping that he can get his variance and the permits will follow.
How much water will he use? What impact will this have on the surrounding areas? Can the water table be impacted? I personally believe that my well, which went dry right after the asphalt plant, is a result of that asphalt plant in conjunction with the sand plant. Now what will a concrete plant do? I certainly donât have the answers and all of this may be well within safety limits. I just donât understand why these questions canât be answered before the variance is given? Does he only have to show that his trucks wonât use County Rd. 322?
And letâs talk about the trucks. Itâs been stated that only about 6 trucks will be in use. It is expected that there will be 20 trucks moving in and out of the plant within every working hour of the plant. 20 Trucks! Thatâs a lot more noise in the surrounding areas than weâve heard before. Iâm told not to worry about that. Thatâs in the future. I thought they were supposed to worry about my future too, not just until next election. It was mentioned that since the sand plant had been there when I moved there, that that couldnât really be discussed. And of course, now the asphalt has been there too, thatâs a separate issue too. But you tell me that traffic for a sand plant, asphalt plant, and concrete plant shouldnât be looked at as a whole? Each one alone may be fine, but not all together. Do we know what harm that could bring? We didnât even get into the diesel engines that would need to run to keep the plant running when the electric company requests he shut down. I understand that can be as bad or worse.
Iâve asked the council to deny his variance at this time. Right now they have only delayed their decision until Monday, October 7th. Let Mr. Joseph return later with more details around his intentions. He couldnât describe where he expected his business to be in 5 years or better. I believe Mr. Joseph to be a smart businessman and even though he only has a 6th grade education, I believe him to be smart enough to hire someone who could. My vote is to deny his current petition for a concrete plant. Can just anyone apply for a variance and say they sorta maybe plan on putting in a plant that may or may not use harmful chemicals, and may or may not contaminate the water, and may or may not have more traffic? Or is that only Melvin L. Joseph. Based on lack of attendance, I believe everyone knows that answer but me. But, I'll be there this coming Monday to find out anyway.

By Karen Bowden on Friday, October 04, 2002 - 11:05 am:

I think Ms. Thompson makes a lot of sense. They should deny the request for a variance and make a petition again when Mr. Joseph has more detailed data.

By Neighbour on Friday, October 04, 2002 - 01:17 pm:

I agree. I think Ms. Thompson has made some excellent points, and that we as a group should look further into this. I believe we as a town thought there was nothing that could be done about this, but see now that asking more questions and demanding answers can be done to stop this potentially harmful process from invading our area. Why doesn't the Council request further details? Or is this a "Done Deal" that we have no say in? I believe Ms. Thompson's valid and astute questions should have raised reasonable doubt to the Town council enough to forestall this until the questions are answered to our satisfaction. Thank you!

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