Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2018

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Columnist Ken McCall: Beltway of great concern to unhappy Sun City resident

JEANETTE POZZI IS having trouble breathing, and she blames the beltway.

The western Sun City resident points to a plant that is processing sand and gravel from beltway excavations just a few hundred yards away as the cause of her respiratory problems.

"Right now, I'm really choking on that mountain of sand they've got back there," Pozzi says hoarsely.

"I'm short of breath. It hurts to breathe in my upper chest."

The day before, she says, it got so bad she had to get a cortisone shot. She describes similar problems afflicting several neighbors.

"I have to keep my house closed down all the time, even on nice days. I can't go outside."

Nevertheless, the 59-year-old Northern California transplant and organizer of the Sun City Beltway Committee agrees to take visitors out on a particularly blustery morning to look at the alleged source of her suffering.

Just across the graded road that will eventually become the beltway, several huge mounds of dirt are being sorted into sand and gravel by a processing machine. The mounds have recently been sprayed with water.

Still, a strong gust of wind comes up and blows a plume of dust into the air.

"You see that dust?" Pozzi says. "The county says they never see that."

In fact, Michael Naylor, head of the county's Air Pollution Control Division, says his inspectors have found no dust problems associated with the interim beltway or the two temporary sand and gravel operations west of the road between Charleston Boulevard and Cheyenne Avenue.

Pozzi's group has recorded a video of the plant that shows alleged dust violations. But Naylor says when he viewed the tape, he saw only "minimal amounts" of dust and nothing he could use in an enforcement action.

"We don't have a zero dust rule," he says. County ordinances require only "reasonable precautions," and that's what Naylor says his people are finding.

Actually, he says, the dust control precautions observed by Southern Nevada Paving, which is running the gravel operations and grading the interim beltway, are "well above average."

Needless to say, that doesn't sit too well with Pozzi and other like-minded Sun City residents.

Pozzi got so upset with the dust and the beltway that she went door-to-door late last year to organize her committee. Pozzi says her group of 80 or so has raised $10,000 and retained an attorney for possible legal action.

Like beltway foe Bob Hall, who is a member of her group, Pozzi criticizes Sun City developer Del Webb for not fully disclosing the effects of the beltway.

"There was no mention of a gravel pit," she says. "Do you really believe any of us would have bought our homes if we knew about that gravel pit?"

But all western Sun City residents were required to sign disclosure statements that describe the beltway and associated activity, says Del Webb spokesman Scott Higginson.

The documents provided by Higginson don't mention a gravel pit, but they do state there are "several large stockpiles of soil west of the beltway that will be processed in place and then removed. It is estimated that these stockpiles will take several years to remove."

The disclosure, Higginson says, describes exactly what is going on up there.

That claim doesn't sit well with Pozzi's group.

Like Hall, she's deeply distrustful of the accelerated planning process for the beltway and many of the officials working on it.

"We've been told so many things in the past, we're doubting everything we hear now," she says. "The more we do, the more we see and talk with those people, the more scared we get."

She brings out engineering drawings of the beltway to question alignments and elevations. The beltway is supposed to be below the level of the foundations of all adjacent houses, but Pozzi has her doubts.

In addition, her group won from the county an agreement to move the Cheyenne interchange away from Sun City and to provide a 50-foot landscaped buffer between the community and the eventual beltway. But she's not sure that going to happen either, despite repeated meetings and assurances from county officials.

Whether or not she's reading the plans correctly or pointing at the right respiratory culprit, her apprehensions about the blitz to build the beltway are resonating through Sun City, as a gathering of more than 500 people showed last week.

"We're not fighting the road," she says. "We just want a road that won't kill us.

Everybody is in a hurry to get the beltway in, Pozzi says, but if you go too fast, you don't do it right. She's worried that "all of Summerlin is going to be ruined because of the shortcuts."

"I wish the people who are in charge would stop and think and use some common sense," she says. "Because once you ruin this town, you've ruined it forever."