Cooper Landing residents seek veto for concrete plant lease, mayor upholds assembly decision

Roughly two weeks after the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved a lease agreement to Davis Block and Concrete Company for the operation of a concrete plant down Snug Harbor Road in Cooper Landing, residents of that community sent a letter to Borough Mayor Peter Micciche requesting that he veto the move. Micciche said Tuesday that he won’t veto, but will meet with people in Cooper Landing to talk through their concerns.

The concrete plant is intended to support the construction of a steel arch bridge as part of the Sterling Highway MP 45-60 Project, which will ultimately build 10 new miles of highway that will bypass part of Cooper Landing. The lease describes operation over five years, with options to terminate early or extend depending on the construction progress. It was approved by the assembly in an 8-1 vote.

The dissenting member was Cindy Ecklund, whose district includes Cooper Landing and who voiced some of the concerns that are described in the letter.

The letter, sent to the Clarion on Tuesday by Cooper Landing residents, is signed by 125 “Cooper Landing Community Members and Businesses,” representing over a third of the population in the area and garnered over “just two days.”

They requested a veto until a different solution could be reached, citing wide opposition not to the plant itself, but to the location.

In an email accompanying the letter, Cooper Landing resident Rhonda Lynn wrote “the Borough Assembly has given us no other recourse but to ask the mayor to intervene. We want him to veto the lease and help us locate an appropriate location because Snug Harbor Road is not it.”

During an assembly meeting on Tuesday, Micciche said he had received the letter, and that a veto was not being considered.

“Eight of my team members made the tough choice to move forward on the best site for everyone involved,” he said. “I will schedule a meeting with the folks in Cooper Landing to talk about the details and what we’ll do to ensure that it is a safe operation throughout the life of that lease.”

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Concerns described by residents in the letter included a lack of inclusion for Cooper Landing in the conversation, insufficient notice from the borough, a failure to explore other potential sites and questions surrounding the classification of the land, pollution, safety and road damage.

The letter says that had the Cooper Landing community been “respectfully included,” their opposition could have been heard sooner and a new location identified — “controversy avoided.”

The letter cites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for concrete washout, which say that the material includes toxic metals, is caustic and corrosive. They write that they fear that the material may enter Kenai Lake and harm salmon — “an economic and subsistence lifeblood for Cooper Landing.”

They write that Snug Harbor Road cannot support the increased traffic, which may obstruct the operations of Cooper Landing Emergency Services and would travel through residential areas with significant traffic from bicycles and pedestrians.

The road was recently repaved to the tune of $9 million, the letter says, and if damaged by repeated trips by 30-ton trucks will see “no guarantees for repair either by Davis Block or governmental agencies.”

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Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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