Skip to main content

The City Journals

Buffer Zone compromise reached as mining company acquires facility

Oct 31, 2016 04:09PM ● By Travis Barton

The buffer zone of 70 feet between neighborhood houses and the warehouse that was established in 1985. That zone will decrease to 50 feet after a compromise was found between Boart Longyear, the incoming company to the property and the neighborhood. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

West Valley, Utah - Compromises don’t guarantee satisfaction on both sides, but it can be the best available option.

A 50-foot buffer compromise was found between neighbors and the adjacent property where Boart Longyear, a mining and drilling company based out of Salt Lake City, will be moving into a drilling, manufacturing and storage facility. 

Boart Longyear was approved of a conditional use permit by the West Valley City Planning Commission to utilize the property at 2455 South 3600 West in September drawing anger from nearby residents. Neighbors contend that a 70-foot buffer agreement was made in 1985 with Mervyns, who previously owned the property. City code states that only a 20-foot set back is required from the fence. 

Currently the buffer area, located on the south side of the property, is covered with trees and grass. The permit that was initially approved by the planning commission would have seen Boart Longyear establishing a 30-foot buffer replacing trees along the fence line with an evergreen tree every 15 feet. 

With the help of Mayor Ron Bigelow, Councilwoman Karen Lang and Councilman Tom Huynh; the compromise of a 50-foot buffer was negotiated leaving the green space and trees in their current state. 

“It’s tough, [Boart Longyear] went above and beyond what we asked them to do but at the same time we try to protect our citizens and we try to fight our best to protect the environment in that area,” Huynh said. 

A large portion of the building is currently vacant and unused. Boart Longyear is looking at a $14 million investment into the property, which will make use of the building and also provide revenue for the city. 

Neighbors were unhappy with the type of company set to occupy the property in addition to what they felt was a reneging on the original agreement made in 1985. 

Larry Thorpe is the executor of his parents’ home that borders the buffer zone. He said the condition for Mervyns to move into that space was to create that buffer. Thorpe questioned how after that agreement was stamped and approved, it could change almost three decades later. 

“Now some 28 years later a different company can move in and change it, what makes that right?” Larry said during a city council meeting.

Landscaping exists on the north and south of the property where portions of the areas will be used for outside storage. Longyear intends to use gravel on the north next to the warehouse area with overhead doors, a wash bay and racking while recycled asphalt will be used on the south on limited basis for storage.  The recycled asphalt is expected to minimize dust by compacting itself down over time. 

Larry said the rubber mulch used in recycled asphalt will still cause problems for nearby residents. He said tests have been done in Canada and Spain on the effects of rubber mulch and those countries recommend it should be “eliminate[ed] or at even reduced in your area.”  

Residents were pleased that the green space will be preserved and that the trees will remain as they are, which is what concerned them the most. 

“From the perspective of the main concern on whether we were preserving the green space in that area, I’m happy about that,” David Thorpe, Larry’s brother, said. 

David, whose backyard borders the property, said he was still unhappy the company is moving in. David’s son has asthma and he said the dust buildup will affect his son’s breathing. 

“They say it’ll compact down and be less dust, but still there’s dust. And what a lot of people don’t understand is in that area—I don’t care when it is—there’s always wind,” said David and Larry’s father, Larry Thorpe. 

Bigelow and Huynh said they felt the compromise was fair even though the situation isn’t always ideal for all involved. Bigelow said it’s important to remember that Boart Longyear carries no requirement to compromise, but were willing to work on the matter. 

“[Boart Longyear] are within their right to do 20 feet,” Bigelow said. “It’s not exactly what both sides wanted, but we think it’s reasonable.”

“I hope the citizens are happy with [the compromise] and the investors, too. I think we did our best,” Huynh said.