Business

Boise council orders mediation in dispute over proposed truck terminal near mobile home park

Residents want to protect their backyard from a diesel fueling station

A trucking company wants to build a terminal next to a mobile home park in fast-growing Boise. Residents fear diesel fumes, 24/7 noise, increased traffic. The controversy pits affordable housing and a vulnerable population against business.
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A trucking company wants to build a terminal next to a mobile home park in fast-growing Boise. Residents fear diesel fumes, 24/7 noise, increased traffic. The controversy pits affordable housing and a vulnerable population against business.

The Boise City Council on Tuesday asked R+L Carriers and residents of the Blue Valley mobile home park to meet with a mediator in hopes of crafting an agreement that would allow the company’s proposed truck terminal to get built while also addressing neighbors’ concerns.

The council was scheduled to hear an appeal from the trucking company after the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission in October denied its application to build a terminal on Eisenman Road. A majority of the commissioners believed the trucking operation would harm the residents of Blue Valley, where 200 homes are located just south of the terminal property.

City Council President Lauren McLean and other members said they expected a contentious hearing after the one before the planners lasted five-plus hours. But before Tuesday’s hearing got started, McLean suggested that R+L and representatives from the newly formed South Eisenman Neighborhood Association get together at city expense to try to work out a solution.

The rest of the council agreed and voted to order mediation. The session is expected to take place sometime during the week of Jan. 8, with the issue to come back to the council on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Blue Valley residents who attended earlier city hearings, including before the Design Review Committee, have been worried that diesel fumes coming from the trucks pulling in and out of the 100-bay terminal would harm them. They also complained about noise, even though R+L said it would install a sound barrier.

“It felt like to me there could be a solution with a change in the design and perhaps a reconfiguration of the buildings on the site,” council member Holli Woodings said.

Elaine Clegg, TJ Thomson and Scot Ludwig noted that the truck terminal is a permitted use at the parcel zoned for industrial use. They said it would be difficult to deny the application, but they endorsed having the sides go through mediation.

“I think this is a great option and one that’s best for the neighbors,” Thomson said.

A staff report said the Planning and Zoning Commission made its decision without any evidence that the truck terminal’s operations would pose a health risk to the 550 people who live in the Blue Valley park. The report recommended overturning the commission’s decision and allowing the truck terminal to be built.

Bonnie Hardey, president of the South Eisenman Neighborhood Association, said the council’s action caught her and other neighbors off-guard.

She said she’s willing to meet with representatives of R+L Carriers and the mediator, but doesn’t’ know whether an agreement could be worked out in a week, before the matter returns to the city council. Hardy, a retired nurse who is worried about the health effects from truck diesel fumes, said she would have preferred for the council to deny the appeal and have the trucking company submit a new proposal.

“We’re hanging in there and we will continue our fight over our concerns,” Hardey said.

Reporter John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013. He covers business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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