Puyallup: Sumner

Is an asphalt plant coming to Sumner? Maybe, and that’s got some folks upset

The possibility of an asphalt plant has riled up Sumner residents this summer.

Corliss Resources, a mining and concrete plant, is floating the idea of adding an asphalt batch plant to its concrete site in East Sumner, and residents are outraged at the possibility.

The company has been in discussions with the city for a while, but now that the economy has revitalized, it is looking at growth opportunities and potentially adding an asphalt batch plant is one of them, said Sloan Clack, Corliss’ real estate and asset manager.

No application for a plant has been submitted to the city, Sumner’s spokesperson Carmen Palmer said.

A group of concerned people has created a Facebook page and website warning residents that a concrete company in East Sumner requested a zoning change to build an asphalt batch plant.

Linda Till was among those who addressed the City Council in August to say a plant would be worrisome.

“It’s unreal and disconcerting,” Till told the council. “Do we want to breath asphalt? I don’t think so. Vote no to an asphalt plant here in Sumner.”

The potential for a plant is in the very preliminary stages, Palmer, said. An error in the previous zoning ordinance caused the concrete site to be in “violation,” so Corliss went to the city to amend the code. The City Council approved the amendment 6-1 and also pushed for a temporary prohibition on future expansion at Corliss or the addition of new facilities.

An asphalt batch plant is considered an “accessory” to a mineral extraction site like Corliss, so the addition would need the city’s approval.

Before an asphalt plant could be built, there are several steps that need to be taken, including an environmental impact study, a proposal seen by the council, the planning commission and discussed at public council meetings.

“It’s like you are on a first date, and someone is setting the table for the wedding,” Palmer said of the uproar.

An asphalt plant already operating already off Puyallup Street, in the center of Sumner and has been since the 1990s, Palmer said. Corliss, a family-owned business, said it has been working with the city to ensure all regulations are met.

“We would never want to put our odds with the community or the city, but we have to protect the rights we have,” Clack said.

The concrete company has been on the plot for 100 years and was recently annexed into the city limits. An asphalt plant is believed to have been on Corliss’ property in the late 1960s to help build state Route 410, Clack said.

Sumner’s City Council has requested a health impact assessment and a real estate report that are expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Josephine Peterson covers Pierce County and Puyallup for The News Tribune and The Puyallup Herald. She previously worked at The News Journal in Delaware as the crime reporter and interned at The Washington Post.