NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A group of neighbors is concerned about a proposed gravel extraction site in Noblesville, arguing the project could decrease their property values and pollute the area.
The Board of Zoning Appeals held a meeting on Tuesday on the 10-year future of the land, while the people living just yards away from it wondered what the next decade will look like for them. The issue ended up being tabled until Oct. 2, 2023, with board members citing the need for more information in written form.
One family worries it’ll be filled with clouds of dust, noise and the eyesore of surface mining.
Cathy Halteman said she and her husband spent their life savings on what they call their “retirement dream-house” – property that could soon become a front row seat to 68 acres of sand and gravel extraction.
“It would change our lives so much, I can’t even tell you,” Halteman said before the meeting. “It’s heartbreaking, really.”
Hamilton County-based Beaver Materials requested a variance for the land currently zoned for single-family homes. Hundreds of people began petitioning, asking the BZA to vote “no.”
“We’re amateurs in the gravel business and in legal real estate issues with short notice trying to get up to speed,” Jay Halteman said before the meeting.
Pamela Sasse said her nearby Cherry Tree Meadows neighborhood is positioned just down wind of the site, which she worries could fill the air with harmful silica particulates.
“A lot of the people who live in this neighborhood are elderly,” Sasse said before the meeting. “A lot of them were like myself – downsizing. Figuring this is going to be your last nesting place. And now we’ve got this to possibly contend with.”
The group is worried about health, noise, traffic, property values and the environment.
“Plus our greenspace. It’s disappearing everywhere,” Sasse said. “There’s a lot of wildlife there – bald eagles, great horned owls, deer that are in that field now.”
“It’s the nuisance of it. And there’s no denying the nuisance is going to be significant and constant,” Jay Halteman said.
If the request is approved, Beaver Materials business development associate Ali Alvey said crews would fill the land to its current state as they extract sand and gravel. Alvey also said there would be no crushing or processing of materials on site, meaning no large volumes of dust.
“Beaver gravel will also use a water truck to wet the ground on an as needed basis,” Alvey said before the meeting. ”The materials, sand and gravel are present at this location and surrounding properties. And for our city, our county and our state to grow, we need sand and gravel.”
She also said there is no evidence to suggest surrounding property values would decrease.
“We live here, we work here, we play here. So this is important to us that all these quality of life things stay intact just as much, as our neighbors that we value as well,” Alvey said.
Alvey said anyone with concerns or questions about the project is encouraged to contact Beaver Materials.
In a statement, Hoosier Environmental Council Executive Director Sam Carpenter said the organization shares the community’s concerns over the location and operation of the proposed excavation site.
“As we think about the types of communities we want to live in, it is important to understand how much natural and green spaces add to our quality of life and to our economy,” Carpenter said before the meeting. “The wetland and woodland areas in Indiana are providing important natural infrastructure services for clean water and air, and erosion and flood control. Zoning commissioners and residents need to be mindful of how new development may strain the natural services these areas provide. And in all cases, community concerns should be heard, considered, and responded to.”
HEC Senior Water Policy Associate Susie McGovern spoke at Tuesday’s BZA meeting, and said in a statement beforehand: “Mining is one of the most significant land-altering forces on the planet, contributing heavily to environmental issues such as climate change, habitat loss, and water pollution. There are well-documented cases in which communities and ecosystems have experienced negative impacts from mining, so it’s not a matter of whether there could be consequences, but what do those consequences look like?”