At the July 21 Tulare County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Papich Asphalt Plant in Goshen received its final approval. A special use permit was approved to allow Papich to make and sell asphalt and rock products.
An appeal of the permit, submitted by Houston Wells, president of Glen Wells Construction Firm, was denied, and the Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 5-0 in favor of Papich.
After a two-week fact finding period by the Resource Management Agency (RMA), spurred by the appeal, two existing asphalt companies still disagreed with approving Papich’s permit.
The two parties disagree over monitoring and the amount of product produced and sold by Papich. At issue is the tonnage allowed to be produced and sold, the impact on the roads and air quality, and if Papich violated its previous permit.
According to Mike Washam of RMA, Papich Constructions will be allowed to sell 500,000 tons of asphalt, 200,000 tons of construction rubble and 5000 tons of dirt and sand per year.
Wells and Mitch Brown, owner of another asphalt company in Porterville, believe the tonnage will be much more and that the RMA will not be diligent about monitoring the plant.
Wells also mentioned that the county can give Papich Construction the green light, but that Papich still needs to get a permit from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, The air district may lower the allowed tonnage to cut back on truck emissions. The problem is that Papich will become the only permanent asphalt company in Tulare County that is not located next to its rock source. Papich must truck rock in from Orosi and possibly Lemon Cove and Selma, to make their asphalt in Goshen.
Papich Construction Asphalt Batch Plant has been operating since 2013 on a temporary permit to provide materials for the Road 80 and Highway 99 widening project. Papich will now be able to bid on the construction of the Betty Drive interchange that will be built by Caltrans. Caltrans is still in the process of preparing the Betty Drive interchange project to receive bids. The request for bids could come anytime between six months and two years.
Based on RMA’s findings, and the fact that there was little opposition to the plant, BOS agreed with the Planning Commission’s recommendation and voted in favor of the permit.
Wells concurs with Washam that only three people showed up in support of the appeal during the public hearing on July 7,,but still maintains that it is difficult for Goshen residents to take the time off work to attend a BOS meeting in the middle of the week.
“I’m tired of fighting,” said Wells. “If nobody stands up for their rights, the government will tell you what your rights are.”