A temporary asphalt-production facility can be built in Woodside Southwest Industrial Park, a local board has decided.

The operation, which would have two 80-foot storage silos and 24-foot tall stockpiles of raw materials, would be used to supply asphalt for a multi-year $143 million reconstruction project for Interstate 65 between U.S. 50 in Seymour and State Road 46 in Columbus.

Pintail Investments LLC, represented by managing partner Charles Corbin, was given permission by the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals to exceed a local 60-day time limit for temporary operations. Approval was given in a 3-2 vote Tuesday night.

That allows asphalt to be produced over a three-year period at the site Pintail owns and manages in the industrial park, located just west of I-65 at the State Road 58 exit.

Among three construction companies invited to submit proposals for the Indiana Department of Transportation’s I-65 construction project, which includes widening the interstate to six lanes between Seymour and Columbus, only one contractor has indicated it would utilize the property for asphalt production, Corbin said.

If Milestone Contractors — which has six offices in Indiana, including one in Columbus — wins the state contract, it has agreed to utilize the temporary facility, Corbin said.

The other two companies are Rieth Riley Construction Co. of Goshen and E&B Paving Inc. of Anderson.

If Milestone doesn’t get the interstate contract, Corbin said he does not intend to recruit the successful bidder to locate an asphalt plant on his property.

The asphalt project has an estimated start date of Aug. 1 and would continue through Sept. 30, 2020, according to Pintail’s application materials.

Near former printing facility

The closest neighbor to the 8.22-acre site is AIM Media Indiana, parent company of The Republic, which had operated a 35,000-square-foot printing facility at 3330 W. International Court. until mid-February of last year.

Since then, the company has been attempting to sell the industrial park property, which was built in the late 1990s, said Republic Publisher Chuck Wells, who voiced opposition to the asphalt plant. Wells was joined for the meeting by AIM Media attorney Brantley H. Wright of the Indianapolis-based Bose, McKinney & Evans law firm.

Sale of the AIM Media property would be hampered for the next three years by having an asphalt plant next door that is both unattractive and emits unpleasant odors, Wright said.

As evidence, Wright provided the BZA an affidavit from Indianapolis real estate broker Nick Arterburn stating the asphalt facility would both decrease the value of AIM Media’s property and make it harder to sell.

AIM Media had developed a strategy to use proceeds from the sale to go directly into its operations, Wells said.

“If I look at marketing that real estate and one of the standards you all look at is will a property be harmed, I don’t know how anybody can think that having an asphalt plant next to what we are marketing as state-of-the-art technology manufacturing office space won’t have an impact. There is no question it will,” Wells said.

“The sale of this real estate is critical to what we have to do,” Wells said. “This will have a really big impact on how we staff our organization.”

Citing that heavy trucks would also create excessive traffic, noise, dirt and dust, Wright said the request to open a temporary plant was an effort to avoid the costs and regulations governing permanent facilities.

Wright also said the proposed asphalt plant does not meet long-established covenants governing companies that locate in the industrial park, calling the three-year operating request excessive.

Zoning permits asphalt production

“If we wanted to put a permanent asphalt plant there, we could,” said Columbus attorney Jeff Beck, representing Pintail, referring to current zoning. “If it’s really that bad for their property value, they should be thanking us for doing it on a limited basis.”

Since modern asphalt plants are now powered by natural gas, they have become much less of an environmental hazard, Corbin said. He also said the facility would be in operation for no more than eight months annually.

Corbin also said he was working on plan to make sure the project would not leave any permanent erosion or damage, and that about 90 percent of the generated truck traffic will be kept off both International Court and International Drive in Woodside Southwest Industrial Park.

One of four representatives of Milestone Contractors in attendance said the temporary facility will keep about 130 asphalt trucks from continually traveling back and forth through Columbus.

While acting BZA chairman Dave Fisher said he believes the concerns expressed by AIM Media are genuine, Fisher said he felt compelled to approve the request because he felt it was in the best interests of the community as a whole.

Fisher was joined by board members Zack Ellison and Wayne Nyffler in voting in favor of the asphalt plant. Board members Hanna Omar and Sandy White voted against it.

Conditions were attached to the board’s approval that includes paving of access roads, maintaining safe distances between entryways, installing aesthetic berms and erecting signage stating the asphalt plant will only be temporary.

Based on those conditions, Pintail’s request had been recommended for approval by the city-county planning department staff, assistant planner Melissa Begley said.

People who currently drive in the industrial park will benefit from new traffic signals that will be installed along State Road 58 that should assist drivers in making left-hand turns, Corbin said.

One will be installed along International Drive, while the other will be placed on the east side of Interstate 65 where a four-way stop currently exists, he said.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.