May 28, 2014

Guest Column: More reasons to turn
down concrete plant’s request for a permit


The Board of Commissioners rarely overturns the recommendation of the Planning Board. If the Planning Board is in place to make recommendations, there must be a compelling reason for the BOC to overturn its position. The Planning Board voted 4-2 against recommending the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to the commissioners. Even though John Finelli on the Planning Board voted to support the CUP for Commercial Ready Mix Products, he stated that could not support night-time pours, which are clearly a significant part of the project's success based on the discussions in the hearing last month.
The commissioners took up the CUP at its May 19 meeting, and there was a public comment period.  The meeting lasted very late and the board put off discussion and a vote until June 2.

At the end of the May 19 board meeting, Commissioner Allen Burrus made a statement indicating that he had grave concerns for the future of his own business if the permit is not approved. I ask that Commissioner Burrus recuse himself from the deliberations and the vote on this permit.  It is now a matter of public record that he has a business interest that he feels compelled to protect at all cost. He should not participate in any discussions about this issue with the other commissioners, since he cannot possibly make a fair, objective decision that takes into consideration the interests of the whole community he is meant to represent.

There is no disagreement about needing a bridge. We must work together to do it the right way.
The applicant has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the company can meet the requirements of the zoning, specifically that the activities at the site will not be noxious, harmful or deleterious.

Most of the witnesses the company brought to the hearing have a business interest in supporting the applicant, who is also their customer.

John Cox is the "manufacturers' rep" for the admixture company which means he sells the chemicals to Coastal Ready Mix. How could the public or the BOC expect objective expert witnesses to answer completely and truthfully regarding questions about carcinogens or the degree to which any substance may be harmful to the residents immediately surrounding the proposed site?

The burden of proof has not been met, and in many cases the sworn testimony even called into question the avoidance of a noxious, harmful or deleterious effect.
John Cox, the manufacturer’s representative, spoke about admixture and its handling. When asked about whether or not the admixture was classified as a carcinogen, he stated that it was not. When asked repeatedly as to whether or not these substances were harmful to workers or adjacent residents, he did not answer “yes” or “no.” He gave further context about the hazardous materials ratings on health, flammability, and reactivity.

The ones that would be used at the CPMR proposed site are "moderate" under the health category which means "temporary or minor injury-reversible,” according to Mr. Cox. This language is not consistent with the National Fire Protection Association’s description in NFPA 704 (the “fire diamond” found on trucks transporting chemicals) Standard System for the identification of the hazards of Materials for Emergency Response. The 0-4 scale Mr. Cox referenced has the following descriptions under “health:”
0 - Poses no health hazard, no precautions necessary and would offer no hazard beyond that of ordinary combustible materials (e.g. wood)
1 - Exposure would cause irritation with only minor residual injury (e.g. acetone)
2 - Intense or continued but not chronic exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury (e.g.diethyl ether)
3- Short exposure could cause serious temporary or moderate residual injury (e.g. chlorine)
4 - Very short exposure could cause death or major residual injury (e.g. hydrogen     cyanide, phosphine, carbon monoxide,sarin, hydrofluoric acid)

None of these match “moderate” nor did Cox provide relevant real-life examples other than to insist that no hazard whatsoever would be posed to the residents by the use of the admixture chemicals. No one addressed the effects of Portland cement dust other than to insist that controlling it with sprinkling, tarps, or other dubious measures will eliminate its existence in the surrounding communities.
Hal Goodman, the structural engineer licensed in multiple states, spoke about the proposed noise reduction walls. He referenced a major project he had worked on several years ago -- Interstate 64 and the walls erected to reduce noise in the Norfolk-Hampton Roads corridor. When asked what the decibel reduction was as a result of the walls in the Interstate 64 project, he could not recall, but he did say that you would “hear the noise on the road just like any other truck” and mentioned the “whine of tires and the noise of diesel engines.”

Goodman stated that once the trucks leave the site the walls will do nothing to reduce the truck noise. This will impact ALL the neighborhoods north of Dare Building. The noise from the trucks will reverberate throughout all the neighborhoods as 1,344 trucks per month (2,688 round trips) travel north to the project location.
These are not exactly resounding endorsements and do little to alleviate the concerns about avoiding harmful, noxious or deleterious effects. They do not meet the burden of proof that these problems would be sufficiently mitigated by implementing the range of actions that are feasible on this site (conditions placed on the CUP).
Pablo Hernandez, the NC Department of Transportation project engineer, made available to the Planning Board a chart that demonstrated the transit time range that allowed for concrete to travel and meet the temperature requirements for a range of air and concrete temperatures.

In spite of relentless avoidance and obfuscation on the part of the various representatives of the applicant, the fact is that proper temperature cement CAN be delivered within the time window from the Nags Head cement plant, also owned by the applicant, with time to spare. (Section 1000 (E) Elapsed Time for Placing Concrete from 2012 Standard Specifications - NCDOT).

For Class AA concrete at 79 degrees or less for whichever is lower, the air or concrete, the time range is up to 60 minutes without using admixture and up to 1 hour and 45 minutes using admixture. This allows adequate time for the concrete to travel from the Nags Head plant.
In a rough math exercise on the time it takes to travel to the temporary bridge site from the plant in Nags Head (MP 9.5) and from the proposed site (MP41), taking into consideration conservatively slow speed limits, it's about an additional 5 minute difference from MP 9.5 and the project location. Obviously, there will be variables that come into play, but they are much more likely to cause slower travel on a two-lane road at 35 mph with eight crosswalks vs. the bypass road (U.S.158) with a 45-50 mph speed limit and four lanes and then the 55 mph section through south Nags Head and beyond with very few intersections. 
The crosswalks impacted by this proposed CUP are:
1.    RWS Community Center and the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station. The recycling center, public boat launch and the ferry dock are also located at this crosswalk.
2.    Pamlico Station Shopping Center at Holiday Drive; also close to Lisa’s Pizzeria, Radikal Kiteboarding and Austin’s Fish Market.
3.    Atlantic Drive, which is the road to the Rodanthe Pier and the EMS and the fire station.
4.    Tradewinds Drive near Waterfall Park.
5.    Camp Hatteras which has facilities on both the east and west sides of the road
6.    KOA Campground; near the Dairy Queen, Atlantic Coast Café, St. Clair Landing campground at Mac Oca Drive.
7.    Ocean Waves Campground.
8.    Lance’s Landing – the location for 21 affordable housing units and near Asa Gray’s campground which has sites for over 20 campers.
Hernandez described how the elements of the bridge would be constructed from two headings. The larger components with the most particular demands on temperature come first, and then the superstructure will be built from the ends toward the middle. The applicant will be working from both directions per Hernandez' description, meaning that it is completely possible for the cement to come from the north at the proper temperature. The plan to build from two headings was not made explicit at the Planning Board meeting.
Lines 0115 (IA1) and 0120 (IA2) on Page 11 of the "Roadway Item" list of the Parsons contract for this project refer to Class AA concrete. Line 0115 had 14,939.5 cubic yards at $452/yard for a total of $6,752,654. Line 0120 states a need for 16,884.1 cubic yards but does not state the unit price or list the bid amount. This means that the contractor for this concrete (CRMP/Parsons) will be paid as much as $14,384,267 for this component of the project.
I have heard that the other potential site (Island Convenience) asked $1,000 more per month and that the contractor would have to provide fill to the site. If the fill cost is between $50,000 and $100,000 and the rent is $60,000 more over the five- year span of the contract, the extra cost would at most be about .01 of a percent. Even if it's just line 0115 at $6,752,654, the maximum of $160,000 additional cost is still just .02 of a percent.

It cannot be argued to a reasonable person that the Island Convenience option is too expensive within the large scope of this contract. Even the company’s attorney  Sharkey Stark stated that that the “best place would be right next to the job site.” One would think that Island Convenience would be a more attractive option based on his reasoning. If you factor in the time and fuel that would be saved on each 4.2 mile round trip that will happen 1,344 times per month, the Island Convenience option would be the more effective choice.
What is the motivation for CRMP to build another site on a controversial location when they actually can get their cement from Nags Head and also have an option that is only marginally more expensive but closer to the project site? They are in a fixed bid and perhaps this is a way to control fuel costs. Perhaps there is a capacity issue at the Nags Head plant with other business to which they have committed. These problems are not the concern of the Board of Commissioners.
"How will these decisions impact our children and families?” This is the mission statement that appears on every Board of Commissioners agenda.  Please consider the points I have made and the statements from the other residents of the tri-villages and Hatteras as you make your decision.

(Natalie McIntosh is a full-time resident of Salvo and is the director of operations at REAL Watersports. She is the president of Hatteras Island Meals.)

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