A businessman with other operations in Chaves County said he plans to appeal a decision that denied his company’s rezoning application to allow a concrete ready-mix business on West Brasher Road.
About 20 people spoke against the rezoning request at a Tuesday night meeting of the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission, saying that they thought the business would disrupt their rural way of life and could represent health dangers. About 11 people support the rezoning application, saying the business and its people would contribute economically, philanthropically and socially to the area.
After listening to comments for more than an hour, the commissioners voted 4-1 to deny the application by JHTC Investments LLC.
“I’ll appeal,” Jim Mitchell, one of the company’s owners, said following the vote, expressing upset with the decision.
The date of the appeal hearing will be determined by the ETZ Authority, said Mary Rogers, Chaves County interim planning and zoning director. She added that neighboring property owners will be sent letters. The ETZ Authority at this time consists of three members of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners and two members of the Roswell City Council.
JHTC Investments, controlled by Jim and Holly Mitchell, sought to rezone a 56-acre property from rural-suburban to industrial for the operation of Chance Material Inc. The property is located across the road from the city of Roswell landfill.
According to county records, the property had been authorized by a special use permit since about 1985 to operate as a sand and gravel excavation pit.
The rezoning application indicated that the company intended to continue that operation and to start a concrete-mixing business, with a hot asphalt mix plant also listed as a possible use.
Both the county and city of Roswell supported the rezoning request.
The vote against Mitchell’s plans occurred even after Mitchell told ETZ commissioners he would be willing to make some concessions to reassure the people who opposed his application.
He said he would agree to conditions that would prohibit his company from operating the asphalt plant on the Brasher location. He explained that a parent company, J&H Services Inc., already has a hot asphalt plant on East Chickasaw Road near Hagerman, Mitchell’s hometown, so he wouldn’t need to have such an operation in Roswell. He also said that while the state permit has standard wording notifying people that the business would function 24 hours, seven days a week, the company would not, in fact, be operating around the clock.
In addition, he said he didn’t need to proceed with a separate matter that would annex the property into the city of Roswell so that the property could be connected to city water.
The annexation matter, which ETZ commissioners repeatedly said had nothing to do with the zoning issue before them, also upset some people who said they don’t want to live near city properties and feared the annexation move is meant to give the city a “foothold” in their area so that their properties eventually can be annexed as well.
The people who opposed the rezoning talked about their concerns about the noise, odors, dust, lights, traffic, a decline in property values and the potentially detrimental health effects.
“We’ve been there four years and it has been peace and quiet until now,” said Phil Kirk, who lives on South Eisenhower Road and who also had filed a letter of protest along with his wife.
He said that JHTC Investments already had begun developing the concrete business and noted that about 25 residential properties on Eisenhower Road will be affected.
“The other thing is that a crusher, a rock crusher, I worked on a rock crusher for a long time and I know the hazards of rock dust,” Kirk said. “You have to wear a mask. You have to wear earplugs. Rock dust is very damaging to a person who breathes it. … So if they put a rock crusher there, all that rock dust is going to come right over all those people … What I am saying, this is not the right place for them to be.”
Kirk and some others said that the business was more suitable for a less residential area, but Mitchell and his supporters said that the site is near other industrial-type properties as well as agricultural fields.
“A couple of ones have said that this property has nothing to offer for what we are doing until we get it annexed into the city,” Mitchell said. “That’s not correct. This property is perfect for what we are doing. That’s why we chose it. We actually figured it would be the least invasive place we could put that plant, being adjacent to the landfill and all the aggregate quarries there, and we kind of looked at as everything east of the Hondo (River) is definitely commercialized.
“We are east of the Hondo and we do meet our setbacks. And a gentleman mentioned the traffic on Eisenhower Road. We have no intention of going down Eisenhower Road.”
He added, “We will be glad to work with people. … We are not here to be abrasive with people. This operation is going to provide a lot of incentives for Chaves County and the city of Roswell.”
He explained that the concrete plant will significantly lower the cost of concrete for construction companies operating in the Roswell area.
“All that is going to do is allow everybody’s tax dollars to build a little more roadway or a little bit more something,” he said. “This is one of the most positive things that has happened to Roswell in a long time. We are bringing in affordable materials. The competition is a good thing. We are hiring local employees and we are making your tax dollars go further.”
Commissioner Larry Connolly cast the sole dissenting vote on the motion to deny the application. Commissioners Harold Hobson, Matthew Bristol, Royce Maples and Neil Roe supported the motion.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.