By Sara Israelsen
The three plastic chairs on Sylvia Baker”s patio are empty. Her swing set is quiet, and there are no grandchildren rolling around on the grass in the front yard. She stays inside most of the time now, trying to avoid the noise and fumes wafting across her side fence.
Not two feet from the right of Baker”s driveway is a cement building belonging to Action Target, a local shooting range target manufacturer.
But it”s not the cement building that”s a problem; it”s what goes on inside. Baker said the loud noises, constant semi-trailer traffic and residual paint smell have disrupted her entire life.
“I get nausea, headaches; I constantly live with headaches,” the third generation Provo resident said. “I don”t get a good night”s sleep anymore. I”m constantly hearing noises.”
Action Target joined the quiet Dixon neighborhood in Provo in 1989 as a small garage, bordered on three sides by R1 or residential zones. However, neighbors began worrying when the quiet company blossomed into a full-scale manufacturing operation, bringing with it the noise and traffic of a big business.
Trying to regain the original tranquility, neighbors have taken their complaints to the government but are frustrated with the slow response from city officials.
Two of these neighbors are Mike and Amy Insalaco, who moved into a quiet cul-de-sac in the neighborhood in 1998 with their 2 year old and 6-week-old baby.
After a move to Arizona, they returned to the same neighborhood in 2001 and were shocked to see two new buildings at Action Target.
“We saw a huge building and said, ”Where did that come from?”” Amy Insalaco said.
Almost six months later, they started noticing a substantial increase of semi-trailer traffic on 1280 West, the road in front of their house.
Because 1280 West has no sidewalks, Amy Insalaco said she is worried about walking her children to school on a road that is only 25 feet across at its widest point.
The widest a semi can be is eight and a half feet, and most four-door sedans are seven feet wide. If two semis had to pass each other on 1280 West with one car parked on the side, there would be one foot left for pedestrians. And that”s one foot on the shoulder, not a sidewalk.
“[This is] endangering my life, the lives of my children – it needs to stop,” Amy Insalaco said.
The Insalacos have filed numerous complaints with city officials but have yet to see a decrease of semi traffic on their narrow road.
Kyle Bateman, owner of Action Target, said he is aware of the complaints and is doing his best to conduct business by the rules.
“We”re there,” he said. “We definitely have an impact, but the city found we”re not the predominant traffic. It”s an expressed problem, whether it”s real or not.”
However, the differing opinions over semi traffic continue. Bateman said Action Target receives only one or two shipments a day via truck, but neighbors point out that even two semis are a problem.
“There is another way to route the trucks,” Amy Insalaco said. “1280 [West] is not a reasonable or safe option.”
The other route is coming into Action Target via 200 North, a wider street.
Because of the concern over truck traffic, Wayne C. Parker, chief administrative officer for Provo City, said the city is working on a new route for Action Target”s delivery trucks.
The city”s design would extend 200 North to Independence Avenue, which runs on the west side of Action Target. This new route would permit Action Target access to its property without clogging small roads in the residential area.
The city anticipates starting construction this year, with the entire project being completed by spring of 2005.
But the truck traffic isn”t the only bee in the neighborhood”s bonnet. The paint fumes are a nuisance for many neighbors.
Jenny Taylor lives across the street said she is tired of dealing with paint odors as well as the dents in her fence when it is hit by semis backing up to Action Target.
She began complaining to the city in 2000 and has yet to see a ticket given for noise, smell or zoning violations.
“Last October, I started fighting,” she said. “I”m not angry, I”m just frustrated. If the city was doing their job, this building would do their job.”
Taylor said she is concerned for herself, her husband and four children, because the wind often brings paint fumes from Action Target”s paint booth directly into her home.
Action Target paints shooting range and target parts, ranging in size from small metal bars to larger I-beams and steel sheets.
Because steel is involved, the paint must be stronger than the typical household primer.
Xylene is one ingredient in the paint used by Action Target, a hazardous substance found in many heavy-duty paints.
Ralph Grider, technical director for Valley Paint Manufacturing, one of the brands of paint used by Action Target, said Xylene is used to keep paint workable and give the product a smooth finish.
However, the chemicals used to make the paint workable must be handled properly to avoid potentially harmful situations.
Glosper Bowman, Occupational Safety & Health Administration compliance officer for the State of Utah, said “[Businesses should] develop a plan, identify what the hazards are, what the precautions should be, what personal protection equipment they should need.”
Bowman said most Xylene-based paint filters should be High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters 2 filters. The HEPA 2 filters clean the air twice to catch all of the harmful particles.
But Bateman said the filter in Action Target”s paint booth isn”t a HEPA filter.
However, protecting the environment isn”t the only thing painters have to worry about. Personal protection devices are also very important, Bowman said.
Mark Murdock, automotive painter and project manager for A.F. Collision Repair in American Fork, said he wears an OSHA-approved respirator, a paint suit and protective gloves when he uses heavy-duty paint.
A.F. Collision Repair shop also uses a down draft paint booth, where fresh air is pulled in from outside and down through the floor of the booth, filtered through water on its way out. Murdock said this ensures there are almost no paint fumes released into the air.
“It”s a very sanitary way of painting to protect the environment,” he said.
Because of the complaints about paint, Bateman recently installed a vent stack on his painting booth. The vent stack is similar to a smoke stack but without the smoke. Bateman said this is intended to decrease the paint smell because the filtered air going through the stack is directed away from Taylor”s home.
Bateman also said he is working to help increase understanding between the company and neighbors.
He has offered tours of his company to the neighborhood and said he hopes people will take advantage of his offer.
“We don”t want any mysteries here,” he said. “If people want to know about us, take the tour.”
But it will take more than a tour to start the changes the neighborhood wants.
The city of Provo has sent Action Target multiple letters listing violations, and Parker said now the company is starting to clean up its act.
“Generally they”ve been pretty good,” he said. “They”ve responded to a list of issues.”
This list of 14 fire code violations included blocked exits, a lack of sprinklers in buildings housing flammable materials and storage piled too high in non-sprinklered buildings.
Action Target had a deadline of July 1 to respond to the city with a list of proposed changes. The company responded and is now taking the necessary steps to become compliant.
“They”re moving forward on all of the 14 items that were listed in our request for response,” Parker said.