King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is calling plans to build an asphalt plant near the Cedar River a “troubling decision.”
Dunn wrote to the head of the county’s Department of Local Services Permitting Division on April 14. The department recently approved a plan to build an asphalt plant adjacent to Cedar River on State Route 169.
“I have long maintained that allowing an asphalt plan in a rural area, along SR-169 and just feet away from the Cedar River, is shockingly poor land use policy — and one that not only goes against King County’s central value of environmental preservation, but our state and county’s growth management policy that aims to preserve rural character,” Dunn wrote to division director Jim Chan.
In his letter, Dunn argued that to build an asphalt plant so close to the Cedar River would pose an environmental threat to crucial habitat for vulnerable Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, and Kokanee salmon in a way that goes against the county’s other investments and programs to protect the salmon populations. He also argued that it would pose a health threat to the 1.4 million people who depend on the river for drinking water.
“I am also greatly sympathetic to the surrounding rural community that will bear the burden of other known impacts of the asphalt plant, such as toxic air pollutants, silica dust exposure, high levels of noise, noxious odors, increased traffic, and declining property values,” Dunn wrote.
An organization created by residents living near the Cedar River, called SaveTheCedarRiver.org, created an online petition against the the establishment of the SR-169 asphalt plant that as of April 18 has been signed by over 10,200 residents in Renton, Maple Valley, Fairwood, the East Renton Highlands, and Hobart.
In his letter, Dunn wrote that he was concerned that Lakeside Industries, the company who proposed the asphalt plant, would not be held to the “highest possible standard and [might] fail to impose the maximum mitigation measures required for this type of use.”
He maintained that Lakeside Industries should have to adequately pay for the impact of their infrastructure for the project, properly monitor air quality, establish dust barriers to keep chemicals and particles out of the river’s ecosystem among other environmental impact mitigation strategies.
“In strongest possible terms, I urge the Permitting Division in the executive branch of County government to reconsider allowing an asphalt plant to be built at this environmentally sensitive rural location,” Dunn wrote.