WATSON, LA (WAFB) - The battle over a proposed gravel pit in Livingston Parish continues as Watson residents pleaded with Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to deny a permit to the company looking to build.
A piece of land boarding the Oak Hill subdivision in Watson has been the source of a fierce fight that's played out in community meetings and public hearings for the past year and a half.
Southern Aggregates looks to build a gravel pit on that property. However, the families who live nearby have opposed the plan from the beginning, fearing the operation's impact on their health, environment and quality of life.
"It appears to be the first time that a gravel mining permit has been applied for alongside a subdivision of 200 homes anywhere in Louisiana. As such, how do you know the impact to residents? I don't think you do," said resident Jim Norred.
The latest meeting between residents and Southern Aggregates' general manager Kevin Black was to discuss a minor source air permit application filed with the DEQ. Air quality is a particular concern for neighbors who worry the gravel pit will generate unbearable amounts of dust and sediment.
Black said his company has worked hard to compromise with homeowners, and promises to be a good neighbor.
"In addition to complying to Livingston Parish ordinances, Southern Aggregates integrated modifications to its original design and plans which are not required by regulation or ordinances, but were necessary to meet the requests of person from the Oak Hills community," Black told DEQ representatives during the public hearing.
Residents present remained unconvinced and asked the DEQ to deny any permit.
"It's the dry sand and the associated particles that have no chance of being controlled that's going to force my wife and me to leave this area," said homeowner Randy Fox.
The DEQ will take the comments from the public hearing under consideration before making a final decision on the permit.
Comments in writing can still be submitted to the DEQ through Monday. However, an extension on the public comment period may be gr anted. More information is available on www.deq.louisiana.gov.