Tower Fencing has agreed to shut down its concrete plant operation by July 31, 2012, a compromise that will end Langford’s ongoing lawsuit against the long-running company.
Tower will be required to remove it’s batch plant silos and any equipment used to manufacture concrete, including truck wash stations and conveyor belts from its Goldstream Avenue properties, as outlined in a court order, said Lorne Fletcher, Langford’s senior bylaw officer.
The order is subject to sign-off from Tower and Langford council before it’s submitted to the B.C. Supreme Court. Council is scheduled to review the agreement on Aug. 15 in a closed meeting. Tower owner Denis Madsen confirmed “there has been a resolution,” but declined to speak with the Gazette.
“We’re not done yet, but we are so close I’m confident we’ll see tremendous progress,” Fletcher said. “The City and Tower came to a reasonable and equitable solution.”
In July, after a few years of soured relations, Langford and Tower hashed out an “exit strategy” for the company during a meeting originally set as an evidence discovery proceeding.
The alternative to the court order is a pricey five-day trial. Facing a plugged court system, Fletcher said the City would expect to wait a year to 18 months just to receive a trial date. The court order, he noted, has the same force of law as a judge’s ruling and is a serious offense if breached.
“Here we have an agreement that we can move on within 12 months,” Fletcher said. “This is a nice success for everyone. The cost saving is tremendous.”
Langford initiated a court action against Tower in 2008 after the company installed new silos and ramped up concrete manufacturing operations to a point beyond, in the City’s view, what was allowed in the zoning. Tower denied it was doing anything illegal, pointing to long-standing zoning that allowed concrete manufacturing on that property.
In previous interviews, Madsen said his 150-employee company experienced rapid growth and success, and has outgrown its Langford property. Indeed, white and blue concrete trucks are a frequent sight rumbling along the 1000-block of Goldstream Avenue, which holds a mix of residential homes, small businesses and a school.
The court order doesn’t settle the dispute over zoning or the level of industrial operations on Tower’s property, and it’s likely those questions will never be answered. Langford stripped concrete manufacturing from permissible uses within the zoning in 2008.
Residents living near Tower’s property have complained for years of noise from the company’s industrial operations and of concrete dust blanketing the surrounding neighbourhood.
This summer the Ministry of Environment ordered Tower to start monitoring concrete dust emissions from its batch plant silo, and to improve its dust control procedures. Two devices to measure particulate matter and five for dust fall are on the perimeter of the Tower site, as well as a weather station, for 60 days of measurements to quantify the levels of concrete dust coming off the property.
Katherine Pearce with the Ministry of Environment, said when the results are in, MOE will decide on next steps, if necessary, for compliance.
Lynne Hedstrom-McAuley, owner of Lynne’s Little Elf Garden Centre, has loudly lobbied Langford for five years to crack down on dust and noise coming from her neighbour, and admits she is skeptical that Tower will pack up and leave.
“I’m happy about this, but at the same time I don’t trust either of them. I’ve been told so many different things over the years,” she said. “I will believe it when I see it.”