Bell Residents Worry Planned Gravel Yard Will Bring Traffic, Pollution to Their City

Residents in the city of Bell say their town is giving a green light to a project what could endanger their health and safety.

In city filings, the worldwide building materials company called Cemex plans to use open space as a gravel yard, hauling in materials from Victorville. But a lawsuit against the company and the city claims they got approved under false pretenses, including an outdated environmental impact report.

The company did not respond to a request for comment, but the Bell City Attorney admitted the plan was pushed through improperly, something the city is trying to remedy now. Residents in the largely industrial city worry about their own health and safety.

"I'm certainly no expert on the environment," Mary MacVean, of the GrowGood urban farm. "What I do know is 500 trucks a day down that street and using the railroad tracks behind us are going to have a huge impact. I think this is a major crisis."

Lt. Col. John Chamness, of the Salvation Army, said he thinks the project skirted environmental studies.

"We had to go through a very rigorous process and now we understand that potentially this Cemex project did not go through any of those environmental studies, did not have public hearings," he said.

Resident Melvin Humphries fears the worst.

"Now we have all these dump trucks coming with the exhaust, the dirt and the gravel and if you're not watching where you're going as you go across the street, you could get run over," he said.

There is hope that the city will rework the company's plans to play to both sides. The City Council is expected to meet Wednesday in closed session to talk about a possible settlement with the company.

But not everyone is hopeful it'll work out. "If this stopped being available to people across the street, it would be a tragedy," MacVean said.

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