Carson City asphalt plant told to eliminate odor or lose permit

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Tahoe Western Asphalt was told to eliminate odors outside its plant or lose its special use permit to operate.

The Planning Commission on Wednesday reviewed the permit for the asphalt plant on the border of Lyon County and added a condition that odors must not be detectable beyond the business’ property line. A second new condition calls for Carson City code enforcement to monitor the site three times a month and report to the commission next October unless odors are detected three times, after which the permit will come before the commission immediately.

The plant’s permit has been back and forth between the commission and the Board of Supervisors after complaints of noxious odors were made by nearby Mound House residents.

Simons Hall Johnston, attorneys representing the plant, in a letter to the Planning Division and at the meeting, said the complaints are part of a vendetta against the business by a handful of neighbors who have swayed the commission.

“I do take issue with the insinuation in this letter,” said Ben Johnson, deputy district attorney and counsel for the commission. “The letter is simply full of hyperbolic allegations not supported by fact or the law.”

About 10 neighbors to the plant spoke during public comment.

“We’ve been going back and forth on this for a long, long time. And I don’t appreciate being called a liar,” said Melanie Harris, one of the residents.

In 2018, the Planning Commission added a condition to the business’ permit that an additive called Ecosorb must be used in the plant process to mitigate odors.

A year later, at its December 2019 meeting, the commission reviewed the permit and determined the additive was not working and required the plant to add a piece of equipment called a regenerative thermal oxidizer, which had been shown to reduce or eliminate odors at a similar plant in Fernley. The plant appealed that decision to the Board of Supervisors, which was scheduled to hear the appeal at its Feb. 6 meeting.

But, the board sent the issue back to the commission after Hope Sullivan, planning manager, met with officials at the Fernley plant and determined that the oxidizer would not work at Tahoe Asphalt because it is only effective for plants that operate non-stop.

“We cannot design this plant for him,” Sullivan said at Wednesday’s commission meeting. “We need to focus on performance.”

The commission on Wednesday also approved a new subdivision of 34 single-family home lots on 2.75 acres on the northwest corner of Clearview and Silver Sage drives.

The area is zoned retail commercial and required a special use permit for a residential development. The commission also recommended a tentative subdivision map to the Board of Supervisors.

The development is the second project the commission has required be built with private, interior roads in an effort to reduce the amount of pavement the city maintains.

“This city is on its way to being built out,” said Mark Turner, the developer for Silver View Townhomes, the new subdivision. “You can’t solve the problem off that remaining 10 percent.”

The issue was discussed the next day at the supervisors annual planning workshop where Turner and other developers continued to weigh in.


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