The use of a residential street to haul loads of asphalt debris to a landfill site at 34th and Main Streets prompted complaints from residents.
“It’s been horrible,” resident Phyllis Bickett-Wilson said of the noise and dust she said was caused by heavy trucks carrying construction debris that appeared to be broken asphalt to the site. of backfill. She said the black, asphalt-laden dust was so thick it clung to her house and it took her four hours to clean the exterior and porch.
Bickett-Wilson also considers airborne asphalt in this state to be a hazardous substance and should not be transported in open trucks where it can blow onto surrounding properties. She said at least 13 loads drove past her home on 34th Street, an area neighbors thought was closed to this type of truck traffic.
Some neighbors, including Bickett-Wilson, objected to establishing the landfill on a hill above Main Street abutting the 34th Street residential area. They also objected to an earlier rock crushing operation that took place in 2017 and 2018. This led city officials to work with the operator to move the rock crushing works to an industrial site on the side. west of town.
Additionally, the city posted 34th Street at Indiana Avenue as a no-truck zone which Bickett-Wilson said meant the neighborhood would be free of this type of traffic. But when trucks drove by on Aug. 31 with loads of debris, she called the police to report it.
City officials said in a response to questions from The Globe on Friday that no citations had been issued for transporting the debris.
Joplin Deputy City Manager Tony Robyn said while city officials are monitoring the situation, the landfill has the proper permit to operate from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. He also said the residential street could be used because the debris was from a construction project in that neighborhood and trucks in such cases could take the road closest to the dump.
Unlike in 2018, when concrete removed from city streets was transported to the site, the material being transported there is no longer from any city project, Robyn said.
“We have previously instructed our contractors not to use this (filler dump) site,” he said. “We verify that this is still being followed.”
Generally, trucks should access the dump from Main Street as the designated truck route. Indiana Avenue has “no trucks” signs posted, Robyn said.
Robyn said if there are any commercial projects going on in the area and they have an agreement with the landowner to transport demolition debris to the site, given their proximity, they would be allowed to use the route the closer or 34th street rather than going to Main. Street.
Beckett-Wilson and other street residents demanded the city stop the landfill site and deliveries for several years, saying it was a nuisance to their neighborhood. As well as being unsightly, they said, it covered people’s homes and cars with dust and debris, and it caused excessive noise and excessive wear and tear on their street from heavy traffic.
After numerous rounds of complaints from residents, the rock crusher operation was moved to an industrial property on the west side of town, although the debris was stored there until it could be transported to the new site.
Then-City Manager Sam Anselm said city officials knew about the operation from the start, but the city couldn’t take action against it because the operators weren’t obligated. to apply for a special permit at the time. He said that even if the crushing operations were to be moved, the site could still be used to dump rock, concrete and other types of material as backfill material for the hillside.
“I’m very disappointed that they can still dump there,” Bickett-Wilson said in 2018. She said everyone involved, including the contractor, city officials and the landowner, ruined the area by allowing operation so close to homes and near Interstate 44 where the site is visible to visitors.
“They all knew it, and they really didn’t care that they destroyed this neighborhood,” Bickett-Wilson said at the time.
Site owner, businessman Rodney Spriggs of RKS Development, could not be reached to comment on the resident’s latest concerns about pulverized asphalt being transported and dumped there.
In 2015, RKS and Spriggs obtained city approval to form a tax increment funding district in the South Main Street area to build mixed-use commercial and retail space. The TIF process allows sales tax money in the district to accumulate to pay for future street construction, storm water drainage, and other infrastructure to support the business district.
The effort was met with stiff opposition from some of the residents of the TIF area south of 32nd Street, including the landfill dump established at the former location of the Capri Motel.
Residents of 34th Street filed complaints about landfill dumping and problems associated with truck traffic on their street to City Council four years ago. Spriggs said he provided his contact details to people in that area when he bought a number of properties there for commercial development, but no one contacted him to complain. He said he offered to buy residential properties closest to the site.
Spriggs said he then allowed the rock crushing operation there at no cost because the city was able to use it to process concrete for the city, saving city taxpayers money. money from street and land clearing operations after the tornado. “I get it, and we want to be good neighbors, but it definitely helps the city by saving them costs and stuff,” Spriggs said then.
The city said at the time that the crushed rock and concrete was not used as replacement concrete for street work, but some was used as fill material for new sidewalks.
Arlene Nash, who lived in the neighborhood for almost 50 years and was only one house away from the dump, recently sold her home largely to get away from the operation. She said the Spriggs company had offered years ago to buy five houses alongside the deal, including her own, but all five owners had to sell at the same time. At the time, her husband was sick and they couldn’t move around, so they refused and the sales didn’t happen.
She is now a widow.
Nash said she ultimately decided to sell her property because she didn’t want her great-grandchildren “playing in that area with all that dust on our land” because of the landfill operation, a she declared. In addition, the winds raised so much dust that she could no longer sit outside on her terrace.
“It was more than I could take now that I’m on my own,” she said.
Spriggs said in 2018 that there is a lot of pollen in the air which contributes to dust on people’s cars and homes. He said a sprinkler truck had been placed at the site to try and reduce the dust, but locals said it hadn’t worked.
As for noise, “they work well within” the city’s noise limits, Spriggs said. He said most people wouldn’t hear it, except for a few residents when they’re outside.
By moving the crushing operation, he hoped the neighbour’s worst concerns would have been addressed, he said at the time.