Homeowners are rallying to stop a proposed asphalt plant from moving into Maple Valley, but the asphalt company says it's time to separate facts from fear.
For years, the site at 18825 Maple Valley Highway has been a landscaping materials company. A few dozen trucks are normal for neighbors, but now they're worried about a few hundred more.
"Basically what's happened is we found out at the very last minute that any of this was going on, and we were completely shocked," Patrick Seiver said.
Seiver and other Maple Valley homeowners noticed a sign recently. It announced that an asphalt plant was proposed for the site. Neighbors argue it's too close for comfort to the Cedar River and a sensitive ecosystem. It's also too close to where they live.
"It's not like it's a mile or two away. It's right there," Kate Bauwer said.
Worried about air quality, accidents, traffic, noise and declining home value, they started a petition that now has almost 1,300 signatures.
The asphalt company, Lakeside Industries, says it's unnecessary as they're planning little if any impact at all.
"To the extent that when we do start up our operations, the neighbors sometimes don't even know we started up," said Lakeside Industries Environmental and Land Use Director Karen Deal.
Lakeside Industries operates a dozen asphalt plants around Western Washington. The one in Fremont is right next to the Ship Canal. The plant in Monroe recently won a national environmental award.
"We are a third generation, family-owned company, and we invest in the communities we operate in. We're dedicated to the environment and being good neighbors," Deal said.
King County drafted a letter in response to neighbor complaints. It reads in part:
"The department has received numerous comments in response to the notice of application. These include concerns over traffic, noise, odor, ground water contamination, impacts to area wells, critical areas including wetlands, streams and wildlife corridors and shoreline impacts. DPER is in the early stages of review of the environmental impacts of this proposal as well as evaluating how the proposal complies with zoning standards, stormwater and other development regulations. If necessary, a revised plan to reduce project's scope, corrections or additional information from the applicant may be required during the review process."
King County said that the process is still in the early stages, and public comment is welcome, which neighbors plan to continue to do.
"We want to make sure our community is not punished for something we don't want to come in," Angela Flick said.
Neighbors are planning another protest at the site on Saturday, November 4 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.