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Public hearing to annex property for Cives Steel draws crowd in Ucon

On Wednesday night in Ucon, folks gathered for another public hearing over the possibility of Cives steel moving to town.

The hearing focused on whether the city should annex a parcel of land for Cives to purchase and use to construct the plant.

The meeting comes after new insight into the company’s safety record.

In July, Cives was slammed with more than $100,000 in fines for violations at one of their fabrication plants in Maine.

At Wednesday’s meeting, representatives from Cives spent more than 2 hours presenting to the Ucon city council. The company said the plant, if built, would create about 150 local, non-seasonal jobs. Two Idaho Department of Labor analysts said an additional 141 indirect jobs could be created by the plant. Regional economist Will Jensen said there are about 316 unemployed folks in the Idaho Falls region with skills sought by Cives.

Bonneville District 93 tech high school principal Craig Miller also spoke in support of the plant. Miller said the plant would create local jobs for his graduates.

As public comment began, an attorney for several Ucon neighbors opposed to the plant’s construction spoke before the council. Karl Lewies said he believed the city had been caught, “unprepared.” Lewies said the city’s comprehensive plan was not properly adopted, and any attempt to ratify or amend the plan may be legally ineffective.

Lewies also said amending the plan through annexation and designating the proposed site for the plant as “commercial” would exclude manufacturing operations, which he said would exclude Cives.

As the debate rages on over whether or not to allow Cives Steel to move to Ucon, the company’s safety record is center-stage.

According to OSHA documents, Cives Steel was hit with a total $132,000 in fines in July 2012 for 11 violations at their Augusta, Maine plant.

Of the 11 violations, 9 were classified as serious.

The company has also taken out a full page print ad expressing its position as an employee-owned company.

At the last public hearing over Cives’ future in Ucon, the ultimate decision was turned over from planning and zoning to the city council. Council members must now decide whether to rezone the property to accommodate the plant.

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