Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Alto residents oppose proposed concrete plant

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A group of Lincoln County residents fighting against a proposed concrete batch plant in Alto are gearing up for another hearing in the construction company’s appeal of a decision that denied the project an air quality permit.

A concrete facility north of Ruidoso would impact air quality for surrounding neighborhoods, a nursery and a children’s church camp, said Mark Severance, an Alto resident who chairs a community group against the proposal.

“Some of our neighbors have been told by their doctor that, ‘Hey, if this thing is built, you need to move; it’s too much of a health threat for you,’” he said.

In June, Deputy Environment Secretary Stephanie Stringer denied an air quality permit for the Roper Construction project.

The company appealed to the decision.

The Alto Coalition for Environmental Preservation alleges in a new filing that NMED attorneys have essentially sided with Roper Construction in the appeal process.

The department refutes that accusation.

“The attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel represent the interests of the Environment Department – full stop,” NMED Secretary James Kenney said in a statement. “Any characterization to the contrary is factually incorrect, an intentional distraction from legal issues, and an unwelcome attack on exceptional public servants.”

Alto residents are concerned that the proposed concrete manufacturing site located on the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway would impact air and water quality, produce loud noise and increase truck traffic.

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The state Environmental Improvement Board will have a virtual hearing in the appeal case on Tuesday.

“Look, this just doesn’t pass a common sense check to put this plant where they’re proposing to put it,” Severance said. “And it’s not that we’re anti-concrete or anti-business. It’s just not appropriate.”

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