OCEANSIDE — Contractor George Weir, owner of Escondido Asphalt in Escondido, has been looking for a location to open a second asphalt plant for five years. The search led him to an agreeable location at 2609 Industry Street in Oceanside that is zoned for heavy industry and not directly adjacent to a waterway.
Homeowners near the site do not see the plant as a good fit. They have long complained of noise and possible environmental effects of medium and heavy industry in the area between Oceanside Boulevard and Loma Alta Creek.
The Friends of Loma Alta Creek previously filed a lawsuit that stopped a cement plant from opening on Industry Street.
The group also filed a lawsuit that questioned the environmental impacts of the Waste Management compressed natural gas fueling station on Industry Street that got a go-ahead from City Council.
Nadine Scott, founder and president of Friends of Loma Alta Creek, said her concerns include odors, fumes, outdoor material storage within the creek floodway, and other environmental impacts.
“It’s the wrong place,” Scott said.
Weir has not yet made an application to the city to open the asphalt plant.
He met with city staff for a developer’s conference in early June to learn what concerns and oppositions there might be to the plant.
At the meeting he was informed of the Friends of Loma Alta Creek’s past concerns and e-mailed Scott about his intention to open the plant. The e-mail was also sent to Diane Nygaard, founder and president of Preserve Calavera.
In her e-mail reply Scott said she, colleagues, neighbors and friends “do not feel this hot oil asphalt plan will be well received.”
“I think you’ll find that two neighborhoods, Loma Alta and Fire Mountain, will be adamantly opposed to your project due to the unfortunate location between two residential neighborhoods.”
The Friends of Loma Alta Creek group also does not see the plant fitting in with the Oceanside Boulevard Vision Plan. Scott said a stated goal of the vision plan is to de-intensify heavy industry.
“We believe our established residential neighborhoods deserve better,” Scott said.
Scott said she would like to see clean, light industry, that contains its operations indoors in the area.
George Buell, Oceanside development services director, said that there are no immediate plans to rezone the area that presently allows heavy industry.
“We need down zoning of areas in the floodway,” Scott said. “This is backwards, old fashion zoning for this area. No other coastal city wants an asphalt plant. It’s not compatible.”
Pete Pouwels, permit consultant for Weir, said Weir is ready to do whatever it takes to answer questions and relieve concerns about the plant.
“We have definite plans to have meetings with both homeowner groups and hold neighborhood meetings,” Pouwels said.
Buell met with Weir and Pouwels during the developer’s conference. He said Weir volunteered to conduct an Environmental Impact Report that would measure the plant’s odors, noise, traffic and other impacts.
Pouwels describes the asphalt plant as a green operation.
He said the Escondido plant is a combination warm mix and hot mix plant. The Oceanside plant is a different type of operation.
It is a warm mix plant that produces and mixes asphalt at lower temperatures. Less natural gas is eliminated. Pouwels said there would be no smoke and odors with this type of process.
“It’s a very green process,” he said.
The Oceanside plant would make less asphalt than the Escondido plant. Pouwels said this means less truck trips and less wear on roads at the Oceanside location.
The Oceanside plant would also take present truck deliveries from Escondido to Oceanside off State Route 76.
Pouwels said preliminary plans were given to the city. Final plans include extensive landscaping, paving the site, and handling all storm water onsite.
“I believe the overall intent of that plan improves the overall area,” Pouwels said.
He added that other Oceanside locations were considered, but were not selected because they are adjacent to the creek or the San Luis Rey River. One location that was ruled out was the site of the proposed cement plant.
Pouwels said the point of sales for the plant would be Oceanside and sales tax money would stay in the city.
Currently there is no timeline on when Weir will make the application to city to open the plant.