Recycling Excess Soil Saves Developer Cash

Times Staff Writer

Tons of earth that otherwise would have been hauled to a landfill at considerable expense to the developer have been recycled for use in a new town-house and shopping center in La Crescenta at Foothill Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The idea of utilizing the unusual portable screening plant was suggested by site excavator Vance Lawhead of Cal-Loader, Sun Valley, to Andrew Skipper and Bruce Pomeroy, the principals of Evergreen Development Co. in Glendale.

"We knew from the start that it would not be an easy task for us on the La Crescenta project because the net export site would require considerable earth removal on the 86,000-square-foot lot," Skipper said. "We also considered some financial and scheduling risks involved after a soils report indicated that the site would yield coarse, rocky earth."

When Lawhead explained the concept to the developer and the general contractor, Mark Lahfdany of Joseph Lahfdany, Glendale, all agreed it seemed like a gamble worth taking.

Equipment From Colorado

"I had learned of the existence of this specialized earth screening equipment in Colorado and was on the lookout for conditions here that would help us test its application in commercial land development projects. The Evergreen project seemed to offer that opportunity," Lawhead said.

Using the special soil screening plant, which he had moved from Colorado, Lawhead determined that it was possible to separate the earth into sand and a high grade of natural gravel, and to convert larger rocks to gravel by using a rock crusher, also installed on the site.

"By this method, everything is utilized," Lawhead said. "On the Evergreen project, the sand has been used as base material under the building slabs, and the gravel yield is ample to cover the needs of the entire development. The larger boulders found on the property are being used in the landscaping."

The Evergreen partners and Lahfdany believe this is the first time in the area that builders have used the natural resources of a site in this manner.

Avoided Huge Expense

Lahfdany compared the process to making a silk purse out of a sow's ear. "Without it, we would have had to deal with some 6,300 cubic yards of undesirable material and haul it from the site to a dumping ground.

"This would have meant crossing through 10 miles of residential areas to dispose of it; we saved ourselves a huge expense in tractor loads and trips to and from the site."

The developers reported a savings of about $10,200 through the recycling process used in the La Crescenta project.

For Lawhead, another challenge has been proposed for his portable screening plant. This time it would involve the dredging of Malibu Lake, a 55-acre man-made lake dating back to 1922, which could result in another adaptive reuse of natural elements in the recycling of the lake's algae and other chlorophyll-rich residue for agricultural purposes.

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