Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Drywall plant riles Silver Grove residents

Neighbors want dust, noise investigated

By Stephenie Steitzer
Enquirer Contributor

        SILVER GROVE — A drywall factory that brought jobs, money and natural gas to this former railroad town two years ago has created headaches for some of its neighbors.

        A spokesman for Lafarge Gypsum Co., one of the largest drywall makers in the world, said the plant is within the limits of noise, dust and light ordinances in the Campbell County city of 1,100.

        “We understand that the citizens are unhappy and they claim we are in violation,” Gary Molchen, Lafarge director of public affairs, said.

        “We don't believe we are in violation.”

  • What: Silver Grove City Council meeting
  • Who: Residents will ask council to take action against Lafarge Gypsum Co.
  • When: 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Silver Grove City Council Building
        Nearly a dozen residents who live behind the plant on Ky. 8 will ask City Council tonight at 7:30 to provide funding to the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission to investigate whether the plant is in compliance with city ordinances.

        Resident Steve Bellamy, who filed a civil suit against the company, said living behind the factory has been a nightmare.

        Dust from a gypsum pile covers his home inside and out, and noise, vibrations and the light at night are a constant disruption, Mr. Bellamy said.

        “If something doesn't happen soon, we're going to board up and leave,” Mr. Bellamy said.

        Mr. Molchen said the company's attorney is trying to negotiate an agreement with the residents' attorney, Brandon Voelker of Ed mondson and Associates, that “eliminates the perceived problems they have but doesn't disadvantage our corporation financially.”

        Silver Grove was planned and built along the Ohio River by the C&O Railroad in 1912.

        The railroad put in the streets, sewers and water lines and sold property only to C&O employees.

        The company began severing ties in 1951 and 30 years later shut down the train yards, eliminating 300 jobs.

        In 1999, the $90 million Lafarge factory brought 100 new jobs and increased tax revenues.

        In addition, when the company contracted to pipe natural gas into its plant, it provided the city ac cess to natural gas for the first time.

        City Clerk Kay Wright said she doesn't believe the factory has created a dust problem for nearby residents.

        “I don't know why Mr. Bellamy and his group are pursuing this,” she said.

        Ms. Wright said she lives three blocks east of the plant and works three blocks south and has never seen any gypsum dust on her car.

        Mr. Bellamy showed a visitor the accumulation on his truck several hours after a rain.

        He wiped his hand across the truck's surface, which was covered with white gypsum dust.


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