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Gravel plans alarm neighbors

Sometime in the near future, the Rempel Brothers Concrete gravel mine near Greenbank could expand.

Neighbors living near the business were stunned to hear of the project and that they had only two weeks to comment to Island County about the proposal.

Elwood Drive resident Daniel Horsell said two weeks’ notice doesn’t provide enough time for residents to research the proposal and make informed comment about how the expansion will affect them. He would like to know such things as how the expansion would impact the aquifer, traffic and if the setbacks from properties and wetlands are adequate.

“We’re trying to extend the process,” Horsell said.

Residents were notified of the proposal on Nov. 21 and they have until Dec. 5 to put their comments on the public record.

“They are really fastracking. I don’t see a reason for the haste,” Horsell said.

Brandon Sweezea is the long-range planner for Island County who is processing the proposal. He said the 14-day public comment period is standard protocol for such a project.

He said he expects to submit his formal review letter on Dec. 12.

Rempel Brothers want to expand its operation by 100 acres to the three parcels south and east of the current 60 acre gravel operation that has been in existence since the early 1970s.

The expansion is needed because the current land is almost mined out and the extra parcels are needed to continue operations and stay in business, said David Waldon, owner and president of Rempel Brothers Concrete. He said the additional land would provide gravel for the next 50 to 60 years. The production equipment would remain on its current site.

When Elwood Drive neighbors heard of the project, they had a community meeting earlier in the week to discuss their next steps. They are commenting on the proposal and writing state legislators in hopes of extending the comment process.

Waldon said that the property was zoned for mining approximately 10 years ago and geologists and biologists have been working to provide a plan so the expansion doesn’t affect the aquifer.

Rempel Brothers also has a reclamation plan in place for the current land with the county, but that work can’t be completed until the expansion is approved and completed, Waldon said.

He added that the business is working with the county to meet all of the requirements needed to allow the expansion to happen.

“If we don’t do it than we get in big trouble,” Waldon said.

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