By Mike Kruzman & Jon King /

A proposed asphalt plant in Tyrone Township brought residents with concerns and questions to Tuesday’s online meeting of the Board of Trustees.

A rezoning amendment for two parcels covering approximately 125 acres near US-23 and Center Road has been requested by John Sawyer of Capital Asphalt. The land is currently zoned as Farming Residential. The proposed Heavy Industrial zoning would allow for the asphalt plant and warehouses to be constructed.

During the public comment portion of the Board's meeting, several residents voiced objections with additional questions about the rezoning process. Lynn Maybe owns property to the east and said that with two asthmatic children, the plant scares her family. Another resident, Tina, was concerned about air and water pollution, saying, “One, I’m concerned of breathing in toxic air for years. Two, everyone I know in Tyrone Township has well water. So I’m very concerned about these hazardous pollutants floating through the air, settling on the ground nearby, and the rainwater bringing it into the groundwater we’re drinking our well water from.”

Other issues involved the request going against the master plan, being detrimental to the township’s rural character, and that it will have a negative impact on property values. Concerned residents have banded together and formed a group called Residents for Community Preservation, which has a Facebook page and a website, with the goal of halting the proposed plant.

A popular request was to postpone further discussion and a public hearing until pandemic restrictions lighten up to allow people to meet in person. Some residents felt they would be heard better face-to-face, and this would allow people without means of getting online a way to express their feelings. Township Supervisor Mike Cunningham said they don’t like the current orders (with capacity limits) either, but they can’t just “stonewall” the applicants. Legal counsel confirmed that if they did, the applicant could sue and request the Circuit Court make the zoning decision for the township, and that is not the way they want to go.

One resident said she had only learned about the project a couple of days earlier, leading another to accuse the township of not sending out enough information to residents. Supervisor Cunningham said the people are aware of the project and they have received “thousands of emails” and video recordings of 200 people in attendance. He said, “I mean, the residents are hearing it. And at this point, to be honest with you, if one more resident says anything, it’s not gonna change. We’ve heard it. We know how you feel. We get it. I mean, a 50 car pileup is a major event. We’re gonna add another one? 51 cars, I mean, I’m not trying to discredit you. I’m just trying to get you to understand. That we’re here. We hear ya. We gotcha.”

Cunningham said less than 1% of correspondences have been in favor of the project and reminded residents that they, too, live in the township and are elected to represent the people. He continued, though, saying any property owner has the right to come in and make these requests, and that they have to listen in an unbiased matter. Failing to do so opens up another threat of litigation against the township.

The rezoning request still stands to undergo a public hearing with the Planning Commission before they make a recommendation to the full Board of Trustees.

Though frustrations showed at points, several residents thanked the Board of Trustees for listening to them, with one saying there’s just a fear this could somehow go against them and they didn’t want it to be because they didn’t speak up enough.