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Residents renew fight against proposed concrete plant near Shaw Nature Reserve

A forest in Gray Summit, Missouri.
Great Rivers Environmental Law Center
The backyard of some residents who oppose the construction of a concrete plant near the Shaw Nature Reserve.

A group of Franklin County residents has appealed a county decision to allow a concrete plant to be built near the Shaw Nature Reserve. 

Three years ago, Kirkwood-based concrete company Landvatter Ready Mix applied for a conditional use permit to build its third concrete facility in the state. After the Franklin County Board of Adjustment approved the permit, residents sued county officials, hoping to overturn the decision. Months later, the company withdrew its permit application and asked the county to rezone the land parcel for commercial use. The county's Planning and Zoning Commission granted its request last September.

"One of the listed uses under commercial is manufacturing and that's the point we're arguing is illegal," said Kathleen Henry, an attorney of the Great Rivers Law Center, which represents Concerned Citizens Against Landvatter Ready Mix.

Henry also argues that Franklin County officials should have held a public hearing before rezoning the plant's proposed site.

People who live near the proposed plant are worried that it would expose them to dust, noise and increased traffic. They also fear that it will cause their property values to plummet.  

"Most of the residents out here on this road are retired," said Kelly Brothers Mason, who lives next to the site. "Some of these people have been in these homes for 50 years and now this is threatening them." 

Mason and her neighbors also are concerned about how the plant will affect the wildlife in their backyards. Henry emphasized that the industrial activity could have an adverse impact on the Meramec River.

"It will emit pollutants to Brush Creek, which runs through the property and runs into the Meramec River," Henry said. "The Meramec River is very clean and pristine in that area and supports many species of fish." 

Landvatter Ready Mix officials could not be reached for comment. 

Follow Eli Chen on Twitter: @StoriesByEli

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.