Paving Plant Ruling Sparks Confrontation

COEUR D’ALENE — A controversial plan for an asphalt plant to set up shop off highway 53 received approval from county commissioners, but the decision led to a confrontation.

The county’s approval is only temporary as Coeur d’Alene Paving will have to find a new place to make asphalt in the next two years, and it’s that decision that sparked a confrontation by a neighbor who does not want an asphalt plant in her community.

Neighbors fear this decision will affect their health and air quality but Coeur d’Alene Paving, the owner of the asphalt plant, says that’s not going to happen.

Soon after county commissioners approved a temporary permit for Coeur d’Alene Paving to operate an asphalt plant off Highway 95 tempers began to rise as neighbors confronted company president Craig Cozad over the commissioners’ decision.

One of the neighbors is Tiny Wilson, who has been fighting the proposal for a year.

“I probably saw it coming but I thought maybe they would hold up the decision they made before,” Wilson said.

Last year Kootenai County Commissioners rejected the same permit, saying they needed more information on the health impact, property values and traffic.

Now County Commissioner Todd Tondee says the company’s proposal is in compliance with county ordinances and the Department of Environmental Quality says the plant is also within federal health safety standards.

“We’re excited to show ourselves here and show what we can do,” Cozad said.

Commissioners approved a one year permit, with a one year extension but that means the asphalt plant will eventually have to move.

“A little disappointed with the fact that we do meet all the DEQ requirements and the health issues and they acted like there were still health issues and there is not,” Cozad said.

Cozad says he wants to be a good neighbor but Tiny Wilson says he won’t wait around to find out.

“I’ve got to move if that plant goes in I’ve got to move. I can’t live there and today I’ll have a realtor out there today, putting the house on the market, that’s the way it is,” Wilson said.

Wilson says neighbors may look into appealing Thursday’s decision. Coeur d’Alene Paving plans to begin operating its plant in the next two weeks.