Neighbors don't want proposed biodiesel plant in their backyard

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VALLE VISTA - Not in our backyards! That's what neighbors in one west Arizona community are saying about a proposed biodiesel plant.

This battle over a biodiesel plant is all happening in Valle Vista northwest of the Valley.

Valle Vista is in Northwest Arizona, about 15 miles outside of Kingman.

3 On Your Side was there the day those for and against a proposed biodiesel plant squared off in front of Mohave County Commissioners.

Valle Vista is a quiet community just outside of Kingman.

Bordered by historic Route 66 and a breathtaking view, this area's built-in beauty is what brings people here to stay.

But many worry that could all be about to change.

"I drive this route every day, I go in I go out, everyday going in and coming back i see something different, it's just like magic, it changes and they want to ruin our way of life," said resident Richard Veradt.

Right now, Las Vegas-based Sun West Biofuels, is trying to build a biodiesel plant about a mile from Valle Vista, and many residents aren't happy about it.

"It seems to me that they're ram-rodding this down our throat and does it make me angry? Yes," Vicki Hoag said.

Earlier this month, so many people showed up to speak at a public meeting about the plant, Mohave County Commissioners had to schedule a second one.

Those opposed to the plant wore construction tape as a showing of solidarity, but most actually aren't against the plant itself, they just don't want it built in their backyards.

"That's the approximate mileage marker where they're talking about building the plant, right over there," Veradt said.

Residents say they worry about scenes like a bio fuel chemical explosion last month in Chicago.

"We strongly are against it because it is a dangerous situation," one neighbor said.

"What about the aftermath, the aftermath is oops my bad. Sorry about the vaporization, sorry about the fumes that drifted over Valle Vista."

Sun West director, Rick Neal owns land where the proposed plant would go, and says moving it to a different location is out of the question.

"I don't see us putting this up somewhere else, either we will do it here or it won't happen here," Rick Neal said.

Those in favor of the plant say between tax revenue and new jobs this is an opportunity they say Mohave County just can't pass up.

"If we don't have employment opportunities we're not gonna be able to stay here and watch this community grow and enjoy being a part of it," Nichole Jenks said.

"This is your last warning and I mean your last warning," Chariman Earl Hamlyn said.

At times, the meetings grew tense and although those against the plan outnumbered those for it by about 3-to-1.

The County Planning and Zoning Commission overwhelmingly approved a permit for Sun West Biofuels to move forward with the project.

The only commissioner to vote against it was Bill Abbott.

"I believe if we approve this, we're saying we're okaying heavy industrial in that area," Commissioner Abbott said.

And although the odds may be against them, residents remain confident.

"My reaction right now is they're not going to build, this is just the first step, this is the first battle in the war," Veradt said.

The plant will cost about $30 million to build.

The proposal goes before the Mohave County board of supervisors in October.

If approved, and if all goes well for Sun West from then on, the plant is expected to be up and running by about this time next year.