Public meeting Nov. 19 for Prestonville project

-A A +A

Topic: Planned liquid asphalt storage facility

By Phyllis McLaughlin

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled a public meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at the Westside Volunteer Fire Department to discuss a proposal from a Louisville company to build a terminal on the Kentucky River, 0.7 miles south of the confluence with the Ohio River.

Once built, the terminal will be used by Louisville Paving Co. for barge deliveries of liquid asphalt, which the company will store in two large tanks on the property, located just outside the Prestonville city limits.

The Corps has scheduled the meeting and specifically has invited Mayor Dwight Louden and members of Carrollton City Council, as well as some Prestonville residents and Magistrate Floyd Bowling. Louden, Bowling and several residents wrote letters to the Corps expressing concern about the project and the impact it may have on the environment and the two communities and had requested a formal public hearing on the issue.

The Nov. 19 meeting will be an “informal” one, according to letters sent by Pam Loeffler, a regulatory specialist with the Corps’ Louiville district. It will be open to the general public, as well. The Westside Fire Department is located at 680 Carlisle St., just over the Kentucky River bridge from Carrollton.

Prestonville Mayor Chris Moore said in a telephone interview Tuesday, Nov. 11, that he plans to attend the meeting.

Moore said many people in and around Prestonville, including himself, were unaware of the project until just a couple of weeks ago when people in the community began asking him about it, he said the meeting is important to allow “people in the community to have their say so” and find out more information.

Moore said he’s been approached by many of his constituents who primarily are concerned that the facility will cause an odor.

As a member of the volunteer fire department there, Moore said he is concerned about what might happen should one of the two tanks (which the company says will each hold 2 million to 2.5 million gallons of the petroleum product used for paving) leak or catch fire.

“I’ve never heard of one catching fire, but you never know,” Moore said. “We do not have the manpower or the money to buy equipment to fight a fire like that.”

Moore said he also is concerned that there may be a spill, either from the pipeline used to transfer the liquid asphalt from barges to the tanks, or from a barge as it is unloading the product.

He said that would be very much like the oil pipeline that ruptured next to the Kentucky River near Eagle Creek Resort in January 2005. The 22-inch pipe that runs underground along the river ruptured early Jan. 26; more than 60,000 gallons of crude oil leached into and spilled into the water. Most of it was contained in the Kentucky River, but it took weeks for crews from the state Environmental Protection Agency and owners Mid Valley Pipeline Co. to clean up the spill. About 43,000 gallons of the crude were recovered.

“Do you remember the smell from that,” Moore asked, referring to the spill. “It could happen [with the storage tanks] the same way. … We just never know.”

Former Westside Fire Chief Gerald Morgan said he has the same concerns, should an accident happen at the site.

“If it caught fire, there aren’t enough firefighters in Carroll County to contain it,” he said.

Morgan said he is against the project. “We don’t need it. It’s not creating new jobs, and I can guarantee you the construction won’t be done by local people. All this is doing is creating a hazard.

Gary Gillespie, who owns 22 acres adjacent to where the facility will be built, said he opposes the plan. Gillespie owns and operates The Fish Barn pay lakes and primitive campground on State Hwy. 55 outside of Prestonville. He said that he never received a copy of the public notice sent out by the Army Corps in September, even though he is a neighboring land owner.

Pointing to a map on a copy of Louisville Paving’s deed to the land, Gillsespie said the storage tanks will be built in the corner of the property that abuts his property.

“I don’t need nothing next to me, because of the smell and the dust and all that,” Gillespie said. “I know it will devaluate my property, because it is recreational. … Who’d want to go fishing next to that, or go camping beside that?”

Carrollton attorney Ed James, who owns property on the opposite side of Hwy. 55, did receive a letter. He said he plans to attend next week’s meeting.

“I think we’re all going to object to it,” James said. “In general, development [in the county] is fine, but not this.”

But, he said he isn’t sure what the residents can do to stop the project, if they don’t want it built.

“If we had zoning, they probably couldn’t do this,” he said.

Though Gillespie and Morgan both say they are against zoning, they said they would want to see some type of law put into place in the county that could prohibit this type of facility – especially near a residential area.

Carrollton Mayor Dwight Louden admits the project falls out of city council’s jurisdiction, but said he thinks its important to have a meeting so that the public can ask questions.

“Council had a lot of questions they wanted answered” at the Oct. 27 meeting. A representative from Ohio Valley Asphalt, which is partially owned by Louisville Paving Company, attended the meeting, but was unable to answer the more detailed engineering questions lobbed by council members.

Louden said he’s been assured by company officials that odor from the facility won’t be a problem, and that was council’s No. 1 concern. However, he said, the storage facility will be about 100 yards away from an area that the city recently changed from heavy industrial to recreational zoning.

“It’s the city’s intent not to have any heavy industry in tht area,” he said. Louisville Paving “can put in landscaping and make it look beautiful or not. ... We don’t have much recourse.”

On Monday, Tomlinson said he has known about the project since this summer. He said he didn’t know for sure if he’d be at the Nov. 19 meeting, because he is scheduled to attend a Kentucky Association of Counties conference that day. “But if it’s something I need to be at, I’ll be there.

Unlike the city of Carrollton, the county does not have any zoning regulations. Tomlinson said, as judge-executive, he has never raised the issue of bringing zoning into the county.

“The people I’ve talked to in the county have always opposed it,” he said. “I see pros and cons to planning and zoning; sometimes people go overboard with rules and regulations. There are some threats with not having it [zoning], but the consensus is we don’t need it.”

As for public concern, he said, “I think overall, there isn’t a lot we can really do about it, especially if it’s been approved by the Division for Air Quality. There are no laws to keep them from doing it.”

Tomlinson said he believes the project will not cause any health or environmental hazards, and said he’s been assured by the company that there will be no odor from the facility and that it will be landscaped to make it attractive.

In the long run, he said, it is “a substantial investment” that will be good for the county, Tomlinson said. It will only create a handful of jobs, but it also will generate tax revenue for the county. He said he could not estimate how much revenue the county might receive.

“I think any time we can get some investment like that, it doesn’t do us any harm,” he said.