AD Main Menu

Mat-Su Borough denies permit for controversial Meadow Lakes gravel pit

Zaz Hollander
The Mat-Su Borough shut down the B&E Construction gravel pit in the Meadow Lakes area after the owners were found to be operating without a permit on June 13. The company had been supplying gravel to a Wasilla road project to alleviate congestion on the Parks Highway. Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News

WASILLA -- The Mat-Su Borough has denied a permit necessary for a Meadow Lakes company that operated for years without permits to continue supplying gravel to a big Parks Highway project.

B&E Construction officials expected to get the permit, especially after Mat-Su Borough officials last month urged borough staff to make it a priority so the $2.9 million Machen Road extension project could stay on schedule.

Now Central Gravel Products outside Palmer has the contract, owner Nickie Jordan said Wednesday.

B&E had requested an administrative permit to remove 100,000 cubic yards by July 2016. The borough rejected the permit because B&E has mined gravel along North Pittman Road since 2006, far longer than the 24-month period required by this type of permit aimed at small-scale, short-term operations, according to Alex Strawn, development services manager for the borough.

B&E owner John Emmi did not return a call for comment Wednesday. Emmi has fired managing partner Steve Bargabos, according to a borough memo.

The company will need to get a conditional-use permit to continue mining gravel.

B&E lit a local firestorm when state and borough officials realized the company not only didn’t have a gravel permit -- despite getting the borough-administered road contract -- but had also been running an unpermitted construction and demolition debris dump for at least six years even as some nearby residents complained. 

There are at least 159 property owners within a half-mile, according to the borough. Neighbors of the dump say they worry the proximity of the roughly 20-foot-deep gravel pit to the unregulated debris dump threatens their drinking water because contamination could enter the groundwater.

State and borough officials say they will examine any threats to water quality while they weigh permits for the debris dump. B&E filed incomplete permit applications with both the borough and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, both agencies say. The company has until Aug. 11 to submit a revised application to the state and Aug. 22 to the borough.