When Imperial Lakes resident Ashley Taylor wakes up, she hears “all kinds of birds” and depending on the season, even frogs.
She also hears a fighter plane fly by and a train “every once in a while,” she said.
This isn’t much of hassle as it is, Taylor suggests. But if Union Pacific were to build an industrial unloading facility nearby, as the company plans to do, that’s a different story.
To put an industrial site right across a residential subdivision is “crazy,” said resident James Taylor. “We’ve invested tons of time and money to develop this site.”
The site James Taylor refers to are two manmade ski lakes and various docks that sit in the middle of 21 homes. Vegetation separates this gated community from the desert and the railroad tracks that lay directly across them.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” said resident Chris Spounias, referring to the proposed project.
“The impacts (will) be excessive noise, excessive dust, excessive traffic” and the facility could run for 24 hours a day, Spounias said.
Property values will depreciate as well “quite a bit,” he said.
“There are several hundreds of miles of desert where they (Union Pacific) can build — and they choose to do it right in front of our residential area. It doesn’t make any sense,” Spounias said.
But Union Pacific owns the land across Imperial Lakes and the design of the project has been amended so as not to have the project directly in front of Imperial Lakes, according to Imperial County planner David Black.
Studies have commenced, he said, and the project will have to go before the county Planning Commission.
Before reaching the Planning Commission, the project will go before an environmental evaluation committee that will review whether impacts can be mitigated.
This evaluation may occur by mid-May, according to Black.
The Planning Commission will review the project at least 30 days after the evaluation committee, he said.
The proposed facility will include a so-called lay-down staging area adjacent to the railroad, according to Planning Department documentation, but no building structures, lighting or fencing will be built. And while the facility would engage in the loading and unloading of commodities from rail to truck or vice-versa, no hazardous material will be transported.
The area is zoned for agricultural use, according to documentation.
Aaron Hunt, corporate relations and media director for Union Pacific, acknowledged the company has submitted the application and said in writing that Union Pacific is “committed to following the prescribed process with the local and state jurisdictions.”
Meanwhile, Ashley Taylor notes the area may be convenient for Union Pacific at first, but not once the big picture is considered.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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