Levy Court commissioners decide they need more time to consider a proposed hot mix plant near Farmington.

    Kent County Levy Court took no action on a controversial asphalt plant Sept. 22 after asking questions about the project’s environmental impact and listening to residents’ concerns for almost four hours.

    Commissioner Eric Buckson made the motion to table the proposed facility around 11:45 p.m., when the few remaining audience members were struggling to keep their eyes open.

     “I don’t think there’s a way we could decide on this either way tonight,” Buckson said, noting the Levy Court did not have enough time to digest all the information presented by the engineers and environmental specialists that night.

    The proposed hot mix asphalt plant would be built on a 22-acre parcel along Route 13 that is zoned for industrial use. The plant would be adjacent to the municipal waste sorting facility being planned by Eastern Shore Environmental.

    When completed, the asphalt plant would belong to the Greenwood-based Stafford Properties LLC. Different types of rock fragments, or aggregate, would be kept in storage containers at the hot mix facility. To make the asphalt, the stones would be poured in a hopper and then taken on a conveyor belt to a machine that would mix it with a binder. The finished product would be stored in a silo and then poured in trucks that would deliver the hot mix to public infrastructure projects.

    Gregg Moore, of the Becker Morgan Group, which is designing the plant, said the facility expects to have six trucks traveling in the plant each hour, and the number of trucks would increase to nine an hour during peak production in the summer months.

    The Regional Planning Commission, which has held three public hearings on the proposed facility, had recommended 24 conditions for the project’s approval, including requiring quarterly inspections of the plant for two years and allowing the plant to operate during nighttime hours 60 days a year.

    In the midst of extensive questioning, the developers of the proposed facility also agreed to have a professional noise study conducted once the plant was operating and to have an independent contractor measure emissions from the plant’s stacks each year.

    But the commissioners were still reluctant to approve the plant, with Buckson saying he was opposed to allowing the plant to operate with any nighttime hours and Commissioner Allan Angel asking extensive questions about the possible effects of flooding and pollutants discharged during hot mix production.

    Commissioner George “Jody” Sweeney said there are seven asphalt plants nearby, including six in Sussex County, and while all the plants are not operational, Sweeney asked why there is a need for a new facility.

    “Just because this land is zoned for industrial use, doesn’t mean we have to approve this use of the land,” Sweeney said.

    Around 11:15 p.m., Levy Court President P. Brooks Banta said he was having a hard time digesting information from one of the speakers representing the residents that would live near the proposed facility.

   The speaker had given the commission a document that outlined proposed conditions for the plant and continued to lecture on the various points covered in the handout.

    “I just think we need some time to read this document,” Banta said.

    Levy Court will consider the asphalt plant again at 7 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 13, and people can submit their comments in writing to the county until 5 p.m. Monday Oct. 12.

  Email staff writer Elaine Hughes at elaine.hughes@doverpost.com.