Commissioners OK gravel pit extension |

Commissioners OK gravel pit extension

Gary E. Salazar

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners granted an extension to a company for a longtime gravel pit in the south Yampa Valley.

After a two-hour hearing Tuesday night, the three-member board unanimously gave Western Mobile Northern Inc. nine additional months to operate the South Pit, which is four miles south of Steamboat Springs on Colorado 131.

The Lafarge subsidiary’s 10-year permit would have expired in March, but because of the extension, the company does not have to close the pit until Dec. 1, 2002.

Although the board granted the extension, commissioners made it quite clear there will not be any extensions for the pit that has been mined for about 30 years.

“This is the final extension,” Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. “There will be no more.”

The company asked for the extension so it could sell existing stockpiles after March.

“There will be no crushing or screening,” said Gary Tuttle, Lafarge director of land and resources. “We will be selling what we have.”

In granting the extension, the commissioners also drafted numerous conditions with which the company must comply.

Numerous residents attended the meeting and voiced concern about gravel trucks using County Road 20.

Because of resident concern, commissioners ordered that trucks hauling gravel from the pit are not to use the county road.

The company plans to enforce this condition by notifying truck drivers.

“If a driver is caught once, a driver will get a warning,” Tuttle said. “Twice will be probation, and a third time we will stop selling that driver material.”

Residents were pleased with the commissioners’ decision.

“I thank Lafarge for being so cooperative with limiting the use of County Road 20,” said Pat Evangelatos.

The commissioners also ordered the company make substantial improvements to its reclamation plan once the pit is vacated.

The commissioners ordered that the lake be surrounded by more trees and be similar to the company’s plan for a pit it reclaimed in the northern part of the county. The plan is to be submitted to the county staff by March.

“We will beef up the plant material and make it look more like our north site,” Tuttle assured the commissioners.

The commissioners also ordered the company complete a hydrology study, which was supposed to have been completed in 1992.

“We didn’t get the hydrology study done,” Tuttle said. “We apologize for this and will get it done.”

The study will examine what effect the lake’s discharge may have on the Yampa River up- and downstream.

The company is to have the study “substantially complete” by next May. If not, the commissioners will revoke the extension.

The commissioners also eliminated one workday, Saturday, at the pit. During the extension, the pit will operate Monday through Friday.

The commissioners also ordered the daily operations to cease at 4 p.m. during the fall and winter months and at 4:30 p.m. during the spring and summer months.

Prior to the meeting, the county received two letters opposing the pit: one from a resident and another from the city of Steamboat Springs.

City officials sent a letter to the county in September asking the county to reject the extension. Reasons the city cited included noise pollution, dust control and visual and wildlife impacts.

The city also asked the county to reject the extension to preserve open space and asked for the company to return the pit to its normal state before it was mined.

“There are some comments in this letter that do not relate to this pit,” Stahoviak said of the city’s open space and reclamation requests. “This letter was not well thought out.”

Tuttle said his company does not oppose the conditions and will follow the guidelines.

“The conditions will help us ease of this site more gracefully as we move forward with our next hopeful site,” Tuttle said.

Last week, Lafarge proposed to the Routt County Planning Commission of operating a new pit on 100 acres on the More Ranch, which is east of Colo. 131 and six miles south of Steamboat.

Commissioners commented about the validity of the plan. Lafarge will have to meet with the Planning Commission one more time and the Routt County Commissioners twice before a decision is made.

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