Carson City asphalt plant told to do more to fight odor

The Planning Commission has required a Carson City asphalt plant to install odor-reducing equipment to maintain its permit to operate.

Dozens of Mound House neighbors to Tahoe Western Asphalt, which is located near the Lyon County border, attended the meeting Tuesday in which the commission reviewed the plant’s special use permit.

In October 2018, the commission amended the permit requiring the plant to add a chemical product called Ecosorb to its manufacturing process after complaints were received by Carson City and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection about odors. A condition of the change was review of the change in one year to ensure the new process was working.

Since then, Carson City code enforcement has received 99 complaints, 98 about odor and one about the plant’s hours of operations. Code enforcement made six site visits, detecting the odor five out of six times.

“I walked out of my house this afternoon and got immediately nauseated,” said a nearby resident who spoke during public comment. “I can’t breathe, I can’t go outside. All my windows are closed.”

Those comments were echoed by 13 other neighbors and one Lyon code enforcement officer who said his department also receives complaints about the plant’s odors.

When public comment ended, commission Chair Mark Sattler, who said he worked in an asphalt plant in the 1970s, recounted recently returning from a trip to Utah through Mound House.

“The odor was so strong I could still smell it when I got to the Virginia City cutoff,” said Sattler.

After discussion, the commission voted to require the plant install a regenerative thermal oxidizer.

In Fernley, the equipment has solved the same problem. After receiving similar complaints, the city of Fernley required Paramount-Nevada Asphalt Co. to install the equipment at a cost of $1.2 million. The Carson City commission discussed the equipment a year ago when the permit was modified, but gave the plant a year to see if the less expensive Ecosorb solution would work.

The plant operator, Robert Matthews, had already left the meeting so it is unknown whether the plant will work to install the equipment. The business has 10 days to appeal the decision, which would be heard by the Board of Supervisors within 65 days. The plant can continue to operate in that time. If the plant decides not to appeal, it has 10 days to operate then must close down until an oxidizer is installed.

The commission also approved two residential projects: a special use permit to build 126 apartments on 6.13 acres on Little Lane, zoned neighborhood business, and a special use permit to build 12 apartments on a third of an acre on the corner of Stafford Way and Silver Sage, also zoned neighborhood business.

Several neighbors spoke regarding the latter project in opposition to allowing two-story buildings in the largely single-family residential area, but zoning allows construction of buildings 26 feet in height.

The commission also approved an amendment to the special use permit for Lucky Strike Casino, the gaming operation going in the former Grandma Hattie’s on South Carson Street. The business had originally planned to use the existing 6,291-square-foot building but decided to demolish it after gutting the interior. The casino plans to build a 9,050-square-foot structure in its place with the same parking and ingress and egress as planned.


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