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 Jul 30 - Aug 5, 2009 
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Newscity

Dust in the Wind

The South Valley might welcome another polluter to the neighborhood

By Simon McCormack

Mountain View Neighborhood Association President Patty Grice stands in front of a pile of material to be crushed by Coyote Gravel Products. The mound marks the site of the proposed gravel- and sand-crushing facility in her neighborhood.
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Mountain View Neighborhood Association President Patty Grice stands in front of a pile of material to be crushed by Coyote Gravel Products. The mound marks the site of the proposed gravel- and sand-crushing facility in her neighborhood.

Patty Grice lives less than a mile from a sewage treatment facility, bulk petroleum storage, concrete-batching plants, a brick manufacturer, a truss-making company, junk yards and car recyclers.

She's discouraged.

As the president of the Mountain View Neighborhood Association, Grice has seen several polluters move into her neck of the woods.

Last week she attended another public information hearing about another industrial polluter joining the neighborhood. How did she think it went? "It was the usual," she answered with a shrug.

At the meeting on Tuesday, July 21, the public was invited to voice its opinions on a permit request submitted to the city by Coyote Gravel Products. The company wants to build a gravel- and sand-crushing facility, as well as a concrete-batching plant, on the southernmost portion of Broadway (9219 Broadway SE). The permit would allow Coyote to release several tons of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds into the air each year.

A scrap metal yard in the Mountain View neighborhood
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
A scrap metal yard in the Mountain View neighborhood

Though Grice spoke her piece, she says she doesn't think it will do much good. "They're going to get the permit. That's always a given."

The amount of pollution the permit would allow Coyote to emit is below federal and state pollution standards. But Grice says it's unfair that the South Valley must put up with a slew of industries in its backyard. Grice says city, state and national pollution standards need to be amended.

"They need to change the regulations so that, you know, if you already have three concrete plants, you're not going to get any more," Grice says. "Until they do that, we're not going to stop people from moving in."

"It's very frustrating. But you have to keep on fighting."

Patty Grice, president of the Mountain View Neighborhood Association

At the meeting, Jeff Stonesifer, the Air Quality Division's air dispersion modeler, said the city takes into account the other polluters in the area. An air-monitoring station in Mountain View records the neighborhood’s pollution levels. Stonesifer said the total amount of pollution observed by the monitoring station is considered before giving a permit request the green light.

Coyote Gravel owner Anthony Villegas grew up in the South Valley. Though he no longer lives there, Villegas says he understands the concerns of residents who are worried about their neighborhood being overrun by industry. That's one of the reasons why, he says, he wants to build his new facility on Broadway's southern tip.

Villegas contends the location is far enough away from homes that pollution or noise from the plant shouldn't bother anybody. If anyone does complain, Villegas says he'll work with community members to solve the problem. "We're not looking at hurting the neighborhood in any way," Villegas says. "We aren't looking to change anybody's quality of life."

But Grice points out the Padre Point subdivision, which is part of Mountain View, is less than two miles away from the proposed plant. She says she'd like to see more people moving into the area, not more industry.

Villegas' family has owned Coyote, in one form or another, since 1979. The company's first plant was referred to by one residential neighbor at the hearing as a "South Valley institution." That facility remains open in its original Coors location.

Foothill Neighborhood Association President Marcia Fernandez lives less than half a mile away from the Coyote facility. She says about five years ago, she noticed there was a layer of cement dust lining the street outside the concrete-batching plant. When cars drove down Coors, the dust would get kicked up, and Fernandez says that created a "constant haze" near the business. For a couple of years, she says, the dust was a part of the landscape, but now Coyote keeps the streets clean. "The problem is much, much better," Fernandez says. "That shows they have a willingness to work with the community."

If the division grants the permit request, Grice or any other citizen can appeal the decision to the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board. Grice says she's not sure she and other residents can afford to appeal because they'd have to hire a lawyer. "It's very frustrating," Grice says. "But you have to keep on fighting."

 
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