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Montana Creek gravel extraction and rock crusher raise concerns with neighbors

Posted: April 12, 2012 - 12:08am

Neighbors of the proposed gravel quarry and rock crusher at Montana Creek Road testified Tuesday night their evolving community does not need more industry.

“The area has outpaced its former uses,” Montana Creek Road resident Patricia O’Brien, said. “It is time to phase those out,” she said of the proposed quarry.

“This is not in harmony with this area anymore.”

Neighbor Michelle Kaelke agreed.

“We can’t have a growing residential area and an industrial area at the same time,” Kaelke said.

Juneau’s Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for glacier gravel extraction and a rock crusher on a site adjacent Montana Creek Road. Coogan Construction requested the permit.

The project is located in a triangular, 17-acre lot along Montana Creek Road in the Mendenhall Valley, near the Hank Harmon Rifle Range and an existing inactive gravel pit.

Ricardo Worl also lives near the proposed site. He said he opposed the permit because of the potential for noise and traffic.

“We’ve learned to accept and deal with helicopter noises, gun ranges, tourist traffic” and a popular campground, Worl said. Add to that the current rock crusher located on Montana Creek Road, he said.

“I do hear the crusher, I do hear that,” Worl said. He said he hasn’t called to complain.

“Nothing is going to stop that,” Worl said.

He said his testimony was a chance to do something about additional noise.

“I get very tired of the noises,” Worl said.

John Thedinga, president of Juneau Community Garden testified against granting the permit. The community garden is located just off the northeastern tip of the site, across Montana Creek Road.

Thedinga’s first concern was water.

“We all know plants need water,” Thedinga said. Even in a rain forest, gardens need a lot of watering at certain times. The garden’s water comes from a fairly shallow well, Thedinga said. Any change to the water level could affect the garden’s water supply.

“We’d be concerned putting contaminated water on our plants,” Thedinga said. “Some of which we plan to eat.”

“It’s an insult to the people who live out there,” Mark Kaelke said. Kaelke testified that he fishes Montana Creek.

“It is simply an issue of compatibility,” Kaelke said.

Lauren Champagne lives on the southeastern corner of the proposed project.

She said she opposed the permit.

“That sound makes being outside absolutely unbearable,” Champagne said of prior experience.

Michelle Kaelke said in a telephone interview Wednesday she left during public testimony at 11:30 p.m. She said she felt the commission did not address her and her neighbor’s concerns.

“Unfortunate that they put one operator’s business concerns over 300 of our households in our neighborhood,” Kaelke said.

Wayne Coogan, owner of Coogan Construction said his company takes the public’s concern seriously. He said Coogan Construction plans to mitigate the noise with berms, trees and the location of the rock crusher. However, he said he believed some residents nearby the project were swayed by their neighbors’ objections.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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