Don’t Leave it to Beaver member Kevin Moloney first met with Beaver Materials in 2020 to express his concerns with the company’s proposed gravel extraction site at 191st Street and Allisonville Road.
The proposal was withdrawn and then refiled. Moloney hasn’t met with Beaver Materials since the 2020 meeting, but he said many of his original concerns about the proposal still haven’t been addressed.
If approved, the project would eventually expand the Potter’s Bridge Park by approximately 50 acres. Ten acres would be donated to the park immediately after approval. When Beaver Materials finishes a five-year process of extracting sand and gravel from the site, the additional 40 acres would be donated to the park. A little more than 8 acres would be used for a residential development. After extraction, the remaining land would be donated to Hamilton County Parks Dept. to develop as park land.
Moloney is one of nearly 200 members of the grassroots organization Don’t Leave it to Beaver, which opposes the proposal.
The original proposal was withdrawn after the Noblesville Plan Commission voted in late 2020 to send it to the Noblesville Common Council with no recommendation. It has since been refiled and includes a water study completed by INTERA, an environmental and water resource consulting firm. The study determined that any potential contamination to the White River would be “low risk.” If approved, Beaver Materials would be responsible for installing two or more wells upstream of wells already in place that provide water from the White River for residential use. The new wells would be designed to catch contaminants for remediation before they reached residential wells.
Despite the study, Moloney is still concerned about the water contamination.
“Some of our top concerns are of course the risk the project presents to the water supply,” Moloney said. “There are still unanswered questions about the size of the excavation site and the clarity on that, and whether or not the INTERA report will apply to the entire project. The INTERA report specifies a 12-acre area, but in the project proposal itself there is no specified excavation site and nothing to require Beaver materials to stick to the size that was studied.”
Moloney is concerned the gravel extraction could put the White River water supply at a higher risk. Don’t Leave it to Beaver commissioned Mundell & Associates, an Indianapolis-based environmental consulting firm, to review the report. The review showed that if best practices weren’t followed or if a mistake was made, contaminants could get into the water supply.
The Hoosier Environmental Council also submitted a letter opposing the proposal.
“Mineral extraction and associated construction are the most significant land-altering
forces of the 21st century, contributing heavily to climate change and habitat loss worldwide,” the letter stated. “The proposed rezone would allow Beaver Materials to mine aggregate in the floodplain of the White River and then donate the land to the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department to expand the existing Potter’s Bridge Park. Mining aggregate in the floodplain will promote habitat loss and degrade the White River, impacting the existing Potter’s Bridge Park and the surrounding natural areas. The goal of a park expansion does not have to come at the expense of a five-year mining operation.”
Don’t Leave it to Beaver members are also concerned about the timing of the development.
“Beaver Materials and (Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Dept.) have been pushing the idea of the park at the front, and they’re just talking about the park,” Moloney said. “But to get to that park, it will take nearly a decade as an industrial site.”
Beaver Materials will have a five-year time limit when extraction begins. But Moloney estimates there will be an 18-month preparation period to obtain permits prior to extraction. He also is concerned that the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Dept. doesn’t have approved funding for the phased park buildout.
The Noblesville Common Council will hear an introduction to the proposal at its June 14 meeting. A public hearing also will take place at that time, when Don’t Leave it to Beaver members plan to present their plan. The council is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its June 28 meeting.
Don’t Leave it to Beaver member Rachael Raymer said the group plans to speak with city administrators prior to the meeting. And even if the proposal is denied, Raymer said Don’t Leave it to Beaver will continue looking at other environmental issues in the area.
For more, visit dontleaveittobeaver.com/take-action?fbclid=IwAR3kE5dnHVdv1qNF7w_cnq5GQpEp86yGV5d2oMTX8pggORHFPCCthPc3PG4. For more coverage on Beaver Materials and the gravel extraction site proposal in Noblesville, visit youarecurrent.com.