Staff Reports

Contractors interested in winning a $143 million reconstruction project for Interstate 65 between Seymour and Columbus have expressed interest in building a temporary asphalt-production facility nearby, a property owner said.

Pintail Investments LLC, represented by managing partner Charles Corbin, is seeking permission from the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals to exceed a local 60-day time limit for temporary operations, allowing asphalt to be produced for about three years from an 8.22-acre site Pintail owns in the Woodside Southwest Industrial Park in Columbus.

In his application to the city, Corbin said the asphalt project has an estimated start date of Aug. 1 and would continue through Sept. 30, 2020, corresponding to the anticipated timeline to reconstruct Interstate 65 through Bartholomew and Jackson counties.

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Corbin said two companies interested in bidding on the interstate project have contacted Pintail about leasing land for temporary asphalt operations. They are Milestone Contractors L.P., which has six principal offices in Indiana, including Columbus, and another company that does not yet want to be identified, Corbin said. A third company is also expected to bid on the interstate project, he said.

Buck Ritz, business development representative for Milestone Contractors of Columbus, was out of town and could not be reached to comment on his company’s interest in the asphalt-production facility.

Economic decision

It’s a practical matter for construction companies to get needed road-building materials from the closest sources possible, said Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation Seymour District office.Maginity said options available to contractors include:

Trucking in asphalt or concrete from the closest permanent production facility.

Establishing a temporary operation on private property near the construction site to manufacture these materials.

Utilizing interstate right-of-way for such operations, if the area is large enough.

The right-of-way option is not viable for the I-65 work through Columbus, due to construction traffic-control plans and the safety of the traveling public, the INDOT project manager said in the asphalt-plant application documents.

The proposed location for the temporary asphalt plant is 542 feet away from the I-65 construction project, according to the application.

“If you’re close to the construction site, your haul is going to be close. Your whole operation is going to be simplified,” Maginity said. “It’s a convenience factor that saves money.”

Scope of operation

The heavy-industrial zoning category for the Pintail property at the State Road 58/County Road 450S interchange would allow asphalt production. A variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals is required, however, because of the length of time the proposed asphalt plant would operate.In his application paperwork, Corbin said the asphalt facility may be open every day and operate around the clock during peak times. The operator anticipates 130 asphalt trucks and 15 other vehicles entering and leaving the property each day, according to the application.

Four or five employees would work at the facility, where 80-foot storage silos would account for the tallest equipment on the site. Stockpiles of aggregate — crushed stone, gravel and sand — would be about 24 feet tall, with two shifts operating from the plant, according to the application.

A public hearing on the proposal has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chamber of Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.

The State Road 58/County Road 450S interstate exit is heavily used, with average daily traffic of about 10,500, according to a 2015 traffic count. Nearly 7,000 employees work at manufacturing facilities located off this exit.

Temporary uses are not required to meet all development standards of permanent uses, according to the City of Columbus – Bartholomew County Planning Department. So instead of curbed entrance driveways and paved drives throughout the Pintail property, roads will be gravel and no landscaping is planned, according to the applicant.

In its review of the plans, the city engineering department recommended asking the applicant to sign an agreement to repair any damage done to public streets at the completion of the temporary use.

Support

The planning department is giving a preliminary recommendation for approval, with required provisions including:An 8-foot-tall berm be placed along the eastern and western property lines of the asphalt operation to provide screening from ground-level operations.

Existing trees along the eastern property line be maintained.

A sign be erected before operation starts and be maintained along the International Court frontage of the site, indicating that it is a temporary project with specific start and end dates.

Adjacent property owners are The Republic, 330 W. International Court, located 230 feet to the east, which is actively looking to sell its former commercial printing center; Bradford Soap Co., 7667 S. International Drive, located 288 feet to the west on land also owned by Pintail; and Shinsho America Corp., 3475 W. International Court, and Rightway Fasteners, 7945 S. International Drive, located to the immediate south.

Jason Hester, president of the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp., said his office was conditionally supportive of the temporary asphalt facility, listing the following attributes:

It would foster expansion and improvement of I-65.

Construction jobs associated with the I-65 project would have a positive economic impact.

Once the asphalt operation ends, the facility would be dismantled and left pad-ready for future industrial use.

Landscape buffering would help mitigate perceived negatives of the asphalt plant operation.

Hester expressed concern, however, that a nearby asphalt-production plant could slow efforts to find a new tenant for the vacant 41,000-square-foot former Republic printing facility. He described the property as one of only a few existing buildings of adequate size for manufacturing and office tenants in Bartholomew County. Hester also said proposed traffic signals at International Drive and the Exit 64 interchange would help mitigate truck-traffic concerns.

Milestone, which won the $92 million INDOT contract for a project to widen and rehabilitate 15 miles of I-69 in Hamilton and Madison counties, did not seek to utilize a temporary asphalt-production plant for that job, said Nathan Riggs, spokesman for the INDOT Greenfield District office.

For that project, which got underway last spring, Milestone is trucking in materials from permanent facilities, Riggs said.

A third interstate project in Indiana is using a temporary concrete batch plant at I-65 and State Road 26 in Lafayette.

Walsh Construction, which has Indiana offices in Indianapolis, Lafayette and Crown Point, set up a temporary concrete batch operation near the State Road 26 exit of I-65, said Debbie Calder, spokeswoman for the INDOT Crawfordsville District office.

It is located on vacant property within the Lafayette city limits in the vicinity of hotels, restaurants and other retail businesses, Calder said.

The INDOT engineer overseeing that project said there was no local pushback to that temporary building-materials manufacturing facility, Calder said.

She said the temporary production facility in Lafayette was required to meet all local guidelines and permits required through the city or Tippecanoe County, she said.

The Columbus-Bartholomew County planning department’s findings are that the asphalt plant sought for the I-65 Columbus project would not jeopardize public health, and it would not significantly affect values of adjacent properties.

The Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals can take one of four steps: Approve the petition as presented; approve it with conditions; delay a decision until a future meeting; or deny the petition.

If you go

A public hearing before the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals will be conducted at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on a request for a variance to construct a temporary asphalt-production facility on International Court, near the State Road 58/County Road 450 South exit.

The public hearing will be in the City Council Chamber of Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.

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Tom Jekel is editor of The Republic. He can be reached at tjekel@therepublic.com or 812-379-5665.