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Cementing this deal carries concerns in West Allis

Neighbors hope city protects their interests if cement plant is approved

Oct. 8, 2013

West Allis — Sue and Joe Goetz have lived on 114th Street for 16 years, keeping their windows closed year-round and the air conditioner on most of the time, with reason.

Even with the windows closed, a powdery dust from a nearby cement plant gets all over everything.

"I could dust every day," Sue Goetz said.

Now, a similar cement plant is proposed even closer to their home, and they, along with their neighbors, are pretty upset, she said.

Between the dust and the noise of trucks rumbling by at 5 a.m. rattling pictures on the wall, more of the same, Goetz said, "It isn't something I want to live with."

A pending proposal

Cement batch plants are allowed with city permission under zoning for that area, which is on Quad Graphics property and just behind the Quad plant at 555 S. 108th St.

Last week, city officials were to consider the request of the Brownsville-based Michels Corp. to establish a plant that would mix cement on site and pour it into dump trucks enroute it to the Zoo Interchange road project nearby.

Michels officials said they weren't ready for city consideration last week and they may not be ready for the Oct. 23 Plan Commission as they work things out with local officials, said Ryan Murphy, senior manager.

Michels already has some subcontracts on the interchange at this point but has not started work, he said, adding that the company hopes to get more Zoo Interchange contracts.

Practical concerns

As many as 30 dump trucks per hour could go to and from the proposed plant, city officials said.

Two aldermen who represent the area are aware of the neighbors' concerns, especially in light of complaints they already get about the existing Zignego Ready Mix plant, and have a list of issues of their own that they feel need to be addressed.

"Our number one concerns are traffic, dust, noise, water quality and basically the livability of the neighborhood," said Alderman Michael May. "I've been talking to neighbors and I've yet to come across anybody in favor of it."

Alderman Gary Barczak, who also is chairman of the city Public Works Committee, emphasized that he has not made up his mind on the project, but that there are a lot of concerns that need to be addressed first.

Barczak noted that most of the interchange paving work will be done at night, based on a Wisconsin Department of Transportation presentation he attended last week. So that's when Michels' trucks would be busiest, he said.

He also noted that the plant itself would generate plenty of noise — such as backup warning beepers — at all hours. That would be a problem in addition to the dust concerns, he said.

"We're not going to have that noise going on that late at night," Barczak said.

To reduce the impact on homes, the company agreed to bypass homes and the busy Theodore Trecker Way to reach 108th Street.

Instead, they would use part of the Hank Aaron bike trail that will be closed during construction and used for Zoo Interchange truck traffic. The dump trucks would then take the winding frontage road up to Highway 100. From there, it's a short distance to the I-94 ramps.

However, that frontage road, which also leads to the Colder's store, has no traffic light. So the city is working with state officials to determine whether 30 trucks an hour using that road would be safe, said planner Shaun Mueller.

Bad deal for city?

Another thing that annoys not only officials but residents, too, is that the proposed plant wouldn't pay any property taxes because no buildings would be built.

Goetz said, "Where's the benefit to West Allis? They're a business making money and they would not pay taxes, that bugs me."

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