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Proposal withdrawn for asphalt plant near Progress West Hospital

Progress West Hospital in O’Fallon

Progress West Hospital in O’Fallon

A rezoning and conditional use permit sought for a proposed asphalt cement plant near Progress West Hospital, which was sharply opposed by nearby residents and hospital officials, has been withdrawn.

St. Charles County officials said this week that a proposed rezoning and conditional use permit sought for three acres at 175 Miller School Road sought by Breckenridge Material Company was withdrawn on March 11.  The requests were scheduled to come before the St. Charles County Council at their March 14 meeting.

The site is in an unincorporated area on the north side of the road, about 2,200 feet north and east of South Hwy. 94 and Interstate 64 and surrounded on three sides by the August. A. Busch Wildlife area.  The company was seeking a conditional use permit and rezoning from agricultural to heavy industrial to allow the asphalt plant.

Peter Glickert, a marketing and communications specialist for Breckenridge, said the applications were withdrawn noting that there were concerns about the plant brought before county officials. Glickert said he could not comment on whether the proposal was withdrawn permanently or would be revised and resubmitted.  Company officials were out of town on vacation, he said.

The rezoning and conditional use requests came before the county’s planning and zoning commission in February. At that time they were recommended for approval to the County Council, which makes the final decision on zoning requests.

But the proposal ran into public opposition during the public comment portion of the council’s Feb. 29 meeting.

Larry Tracy, president of BJC Healthcare’s St. Charles County hospitals – Barnes-Jewish St. Peters and Progress West—told councilmembers that a cement plant so close to Progress West Hospital in O’Fallon might prompt job cuts and jeopardize the facility’s future. The hospital is located off Highway K, just north of the highway’s intersection with I-64.

Tracy said locating the plant within a thousand feet of the hospital was a “bad idea” because patients wouldn’t seek medical care from a facility near a cement plant that emits fumes that can’t be mitigated. A cut in patients would lead to job cuts and reduced occupancy of medical office buildings, he said.

“And in good conscience, I won’t recommend to BJC Healthcare that we continue to invest in that facility,” he said. “So to me, it’s very simple – it’s about taking care of people and about preserving jobs in St. Charles County and especially in O’Fallon at Progress West Hospital.”

Nearby subdivision residents said trucks and traffic from the cement plant site would pose a threat to drivers, fumes from the plant may pose a health risk, and the plant could hurt property values.

Andrew Arnold, president and chief operating officer for Breckenridge Materials, told the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 17 that asphalt plants need to be close to where asphalt is used because it hardens quickly. The Miller School site has good highway access.

Arnold said it was unlikely that any odor from the asphalt would reach any of the surrounding businesses because it dissipates. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would regulate emissions, operating hours and noise, he said.

In 2014 and 2015, a temporary concrete batch plant used the property during construction along I-64.  But the county’s planning staff told the commission in February that the site has historically been zoned agricultural and is viewed as parks and open space in the county’s 2025 Master Plan.

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