SLIPPERY ROCK TOWNSHIP – Despite residents’ objections, members of the Slippery Rock Township Zoning Hearing Board approved a special exception request for a proposed cold-mix asphalt plant.

Board members Thomas Gaul and Craig Caldwell granted the request with certain yet-to-be-determined conditions. The third board member, James Anderson, was absent.

The action came after a three-hour public hearing on Jan. 12, where residents expressed concerns about noise, pollution, truck traffic, and carcinogens.

Township officials and several representatives of Heilman Pavement Specialties Inc., doing business as HEI-WAY Premium Asphalt Materials, attended the hearing at the township building; members of the public attended via Zoom.

HEI-WAY had asked for a heavy manufacturing designation in an area zoned light industrial.

The hearing was run by Alan Shaddinger, the zoning hearing board’s solicitor. Attorney Joe Charlton represented HEI-WAY.

Slippery Rock resident Chris Coleman objected to having only two board members present, arguing the township was not properly represented. Coleman also opposed the virtual meeting format, noting township officials previously said they would accommodate in-person attendance.

During the hearing, Charlton continually took issue with Coleman’s objections, because Coleman’s property does not abut the site of the proposed plant at 490 Stoughton Road. Coleman said he has a shallow water well the asphalt plant could impact.

Elias Heilman, vice president and owner of HEI-WAY, which operates a plant in Sarver, testified the company has the option to buy neighboring property at 470 Stoughton Road.

Cold-mix asphalt production mixes bituminous asphalt with stone or aggregate to produce flexible, water-based pavement.

Heilman estimated 35 to 40 production days a year, with no explosive or flammable materials. Fire protection equipment, however, would be on-site.

The company would drill water wells to mitigate dust, Heilman said. Roughly 24 trucks a day, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and probably more on production days, would access the property. On non-production days, one or two employees would load customers’ trucks.

The process includes no toxic chemicals, Heilman said. “We don’t have the leachate problem that everyone thinks we have.”

Scott Foreman, a senior project manager with Hampton Technical Associates Inc., said the project includes a paved access road onto the property, with the plant in the center, about 660 feet from Slippery Rock Creek, as well as a buffer mound, stormwater collector, and LED lighting.

The land development plan and a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit must still be approved.

Discharge would first go through the stormwater collector, then to a tributary that ends in Slippery Rock Creek.

An unlined stormwater pond would be less than 14 feet deep.

Joseph Pezze, principal owner of Hillcrest Group, an environmental firm in Wexford, said no emissions would cross the property line of the proposed plant. Any slight odor in the processing area would dissipate within a few feet; the new plant would be far from residential properties, Pezze said.

Robert Orchowski, a consultant, engineer and part owner of Hillcrest Group, called the chance of a spill “very small,” with no chance of it leaving the property.

Despite residents’ concerns, Charlton said any objections would have to show the plant would cause greater harm.

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