Couple suing county, concrete plant

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Lawsuit cites county neglect, noise nuisance

An Indian Land couple has filed a lawsuit against Lancaster County and a concrete company near their home in an effort to stop what they say is an ongoing nuisance that affects their health and property.

Ernest and Shawnee Garvin, who filed the suit Dec. 16, 2010,  live on Cole Creek Drive in the Brookchase neighborhood. Their home is located within 50 yards of the Blue Dot Redi-Mix LLC facility on Northfield Drive in the Perimeter 521 Commerce Park, according to the lawsuit.

Although there are three other concrete plants in the park, Blue Dot is the only defendant plant named in the lawsuit. 

The Garvins say their home and neighborhood were there before the plant and the plant’s operation, along with  the county’s inaction in stopping it, have diminished the value of their home and caused “tremendous pain and suffering, injury to their health, loss of sleep, harassment and mental and emotional anguish.”

Neither the Garvins, Blue Dot owner Paul Cochran nor Blue Dot’s attorney, Driscoll Sheedy, responded to requests for comment. 

Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis said he could not comment on the lawsuit except to say the matter has been turned over to the county’s insurance carrier at the Association of Counties Insurance Trust, which has retained an attorney to handle the lawsuit.

In the complaint, the Garvins allege constant interference in the use and enjoyment of their property, due to “continuous noise, vibration and dust” day and night from the plant’s operation.

The couple allege the plant’s operations constitute a nuisance and trespass, in that their property is “invaded” by “cement particles, fly ash, vibrations, loud and obnoxious noise and bright light”  during the night and morning hours.

Among the several issues constituting negligence, the lawsuit says, is that the company failed to limit their 24-hour operations and did not install a functional buffer between it and adjacent properties.

The Garvins also say they spoke to representatives for both Blue Dot and the county on numerous occasions in an attempt to avoid litigation, but received no relief.

The Garvins allege negligence by the county, saying officials failed to enforce zoning and other laws governing operations at Blue Dot, despite knowledge of the problems.

The lawsuit spells out specific areas in which the county allegedly failed to enforce its own Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) in regards to the alleged nuisances, and cites an ordinance the Garvins say should have kept the plant from reopening after sitting dormant for six months.

In addition to actual damages and punitive damages “in an amount as would deter defendants and others from such activity in the future,” the Garvins asked the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent mandatory injunctions against the company to stop production at the facility.

The Garvins also asked that the county enforce the ordinances noted in the lawsuit.

In their response filed Jan. 25, attorneys for Blue Dot denied almost every aspect of the lawsuit except for an admission that it has operated a concrete plant at the location since May 2007.

The response points out that Blue Dot is one of four concrete plants operating in the business park and said while the Garvins may have bought their home in June 2006, before Blue Dot opened for business, the date was “well after” the first concrete plant was built and running. 

The first concrete plant in the business park, McCloud Construction, opened in early 2000. Blue Dot was the second.

Blue Dot maintains that its plant operates according to all federal, state and local laws and was designed, constructed and operated so as not to harm residents living in its vicinity. 

The company says it takes all necessary precautions and measures to reduce noise and dust from its operations and as a result, the response says, there are “little or no” dust particles released from the operation and the noise level is minimal.

The response says since there are three other plants in the business park with virtually identical activity, the plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that Blue Dot is responsible for the alleged damages.

The response asks that the Garvins post a bond in an amount that reflects damages to Blue Dot connected with any temporary or preliminary injunctive relief from stopping work at the plant.

Blue Dot maintains it has the right to operate where it is and says the claims against it are without merit. The company asks that the complaint against it be dismissed.

As of last week, attorneys representing the county had not filed a response on its behalf.