Managing Blasting and Construction Activity

Blasting Follow-up

Last month I shared information regarding residents’ concerns about developers using blasting in neighborhood developments. Currently, blasting is being used for development in the Skyline Ridge/Kiowa Valley area and the Lone Tree subdivision.

Since then, the City has continued discussions with residents, the developers, the blasting companies, and Unified Fire Authority (who issues the blasting permits and monitors the operations for safety compliance) to determine options for minimizing impact to residents.

Following are responses to common questions from residents that I hope will provide more insight:

Why is the City allowing blasting in these developments near existing homes?

As a young city, we have not experienced blasting of this scale for residential excavation. As such, our process has purely been a technical safety consideration. Unified Fire Authority’s explosives/bomb technician reviews the blasting plan info sheet which includes the date, time, location, proximity to structures and other technical details. They ensure the contractor is licensed, insured, that they possesses an ATF license, and that explosives handlers have an ATF background check. At that point the permit is relayed to the City.

While our existing process may ensure safety as a technical consideration, our policy does not address the larger issues that have seen asked by residents. Do we want to allow hillsides to be blown up to make room for houses? I believe the answer is clearly no, we do not. I have spoken with City staff and with our attorney about this and will work with them on appropriate code changes.

Under the code I will be proposing, blasting permits will now require City Council approval in addition to a UFA permit. I will bring this code to City Council as soon as it is ready and may consider holding a special meeting if practical.

Why wasn’t I notified that blasting would be occurring? I thought it was an earthquake.

The blasting companies have been contacting residents in closest proximity to the blast area but not reaching everyone who may be close enough to experience shaking/noise impact. The City is asking the blasting companies to expand their notifications to a broader range. Additionally, the blasting companies are required to notify the City prior to blasting. If residents want to ensure that they receive notifications, please sign up for the City’s notification system to receive notifications via email and/or text, or follow the City on Facebook or Twitter. Notifications of upcoming blasting events are distributed through all of these mediums. Please help spread the word to your neighbors about this option.

How long will the blasting operations continue?

As of today, conversations with the developers would indicate that there are no more than a handful of blasting events remaining. Before blasting continues we will be having conversations with the developers to understand exactly what the intended outcome is. My desire is to cease all blasting that is in proximity to developed areas. This includes Skyline Ridge and Lone Tree. I will work with our attorney to identify the City’s legal obligation to allow continued blasting. An early assessment has led me to believe the City may have little obligation to allow continued blasting. We will be having a conversation with the developers to understand the details of their excavation activity and work to find a reasonable and expedient resolution to the blasting and processing of material.

What can be done about the dust, noise, and construction vehicle traffic associated with excavating operations around neighborhoods?

On Friday, June 16 we began notifying all developers and builders that are crushing rock or processing material on site that they are to cease operation immediately and submit a detailed excavation/material processing plan to the City Engineer’s office. Crushing and or processing will not be allowed until the plan is submitted and approved. We will be making significant changes to our approval process of excavating, grading, and on-site material processing (crushing rock, mixing rock/dirt to manufacture engineered fill material). The intent of this process change is not to be punitive, nor will it seek to be unreasonable. The intent is to take additional steps to closely consider the potential impacts to residents and to prevent negative interactions where possible. While the City currently requires applications for these activities, we will be requiring much greater detail from builders and developers in order to set clear expectations of both the developer and the City. This will allow the City to quickly shut down any operation that moves beyond the scope of what has been approved.

The details required in each plan will likely include the amount of material to be removed and processed, the design of the entry and exit points for truck traffic and the measures implemented to clean tires before exit onto City streets, and the dust control measures for both feed stock piles, stockpiles, and onsite dirt transport roads. An estimation of the final topography after processing will also be required.

Those with an existing excavation permit of sufficient detail will be allowed to continue operation if it is determined that the plan provides sufficient measures to mitigate dust, erosion, and impact to roads, and impact to residents.

I feel the blasting has done damage to my home. Who do I report it to?

If there is evidence of damage connected to the blasting, claims may be filed through the blasting company’s insurance. The blasting company for the Skyline Ridge/Kiowa Valley area development is 3 Rivers Drilling and Blasting (435) 865-6980 and the blasting company for the Lone Tree area is Wolfe Drilling (801) 420-3557.

It is not the City’s desire to be heavy-handed or punitive by implementing these measures. These measures are a direct result of the increased construction activity in Eagle Mountain and our responsibility to effectively manage the activities in order to prevent detrimental impact to existing residents and the community we have been working so hard to build. Eagle Mountain is a special place, and I believe these measures are an appropriate response to our changing reality of growth. In short, these measures will help us to keep Eagle Mountain a special place, but requirements will not be arbitrary or capricious.

Additionally, these measures are not intended to stop all activities that residents might deem to be undesirable. Construction activity will likely be a fact of life in Eagle Mountain for a long time to come, and it is hardly ever desirable when it is in your neighborhood. As with all neighborhoods, the activity was necessary to build the home you now live in, and the same is true for the homes your future neighbors will live in. It will eventually move on and you will no longer feel the impacts. There are no expectations that residents will not be subjected to periodic dust, vibration, or truck traffic. The intent is for the City to take a more active role in analyzing the construction activity that is deemed to be necessary and the plan to accomplish it so that we might minimize the impact and potentially restrict the activity if necessary, if the impact to existing residents is found to be unreasonable. These measures will enable City staff to be prompt in shutting down unpermitted activity, it will establish strong accountability, and it will provide developers and builders with clear expectations.

In closing, I appreciate the feedback I have received from many residents. The feedback I have received from you has been instrumental in my assessment of the big picture concerning construction activity in Eagle Mountain and how best to manage it. We will still aim to find reasonable solutions to every problem. We will still take the time to hear our every stakeholder, including developers, builders, and residents alike. We will absolutely keep perspective that working together is the best policy for building a City we can all be proud of.

 

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