Fight over proposed southside Indy limestone plant ramps up

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Instead of enjoying the holiday weekend, one neighborhood is preparing for battle with the city of Indianapolis.

They're fighting a special use petition for a limestone processing plant on South Bluff Road on the city’s south side.

The petition was filed by Brian E. Moench of Contrac, a limited liability company, on behalf of a Moench Engineering-Tunnel Rock Storage project.

Neighbors know the property, 2800 S. Bluff Road, as Bluff Road Industrial Park.

Friday night, neighbors met down the street to discuss how they’ll keep it away. They expressed concern with a city staff report issued earlier that day recommending "special use" approval to process limestone.

“I’m shocked because I can’t believe that if they were living here, that they would approve of it,” said neighbor Vicki Woning.

Woning just learned of the project five days before, when Glenda Hueber knocked on her door.

“I do know that from the front of my property to the other side of the tree line over there is 496 feet,” said Hueber. “That is way too close. It’s just too close.”

Hueber lives right across the street from the proposed site. She’s been working for weeks to get the word out to Woning and others.

“My understanding is they only contacted a couple of homeowners because they were actually within the footage and a graveyard,” said Woning. “I don’t think that’s good enough when you’re talking something of this magnitude.”

Woning and several of her other neighbors have signed a petition. All share worries that processing limestone and the resultant dust will negatively impact the air they breathe.

“I spoke to over 200 homes,” said Woning. “Probably a third of these have COPD, asthma, asthmatic children, asthmatic adults. We're talking about lung issues, breathing issues, on oxygen. What's that going to do for them?”

Woning and Hueber are even more concerned now that they know the staff report recommendation does not require a plan for dust mitigation before the zoning special exception is granted. The company would instead have thirty days to submit an approved plan.

That, city-county councilor Jeff Miller says, is unacceptable.

“We can’t be making the public feel their input doesn’t matter,” said Miller.

Miller says the report plays into the feeling that big companies don't have to abide by the government’s rules.

“We don’t need your input, you know,” said Miller. “Thank you for coming to the meeting, but we really didn’t need you to show up because we don’t have the details you want. That’s not the right message to send to people.”

Miller plans to join neighbors on Tuesday at the Board of Zoning Appeals hearing. They plan to again explain their concerns and hope the city hears them.

The neighborhood association has already used its one continuance for the matter. The board will make a decision Tuesday afternoon if the petitioner does not also request a continuance.

“We will be at the hearing and we will see what the outcome is,” said Hueber. “We just pray that it’s a good one. The right one. The moral one.”

Early Saturday morning, the company's attorney returned a call to FOX59, saying his client decided to grant a continuance ahead of Tuesday's hearing.

This means the issue won't be decided until 30 days from the date that continuance is issued.