County against gravel pit plan |

County against gravel pit plan

Commissioners turn down proposal on south side of town

— For the second time in nine months, Routt County officials shot down a gravel pit proposal on the south edge of Steamboat Springs along U.S. 40.

On Monday night, the Routt County Board of Commissioners said it could not support a gravel pit operation being proposed by Elam Construction and Native Excavating.

Commissioners praised the proposal’s reclamation plan during a conceptual review but said they could not support a pit because of visual, noise and dust impacts.

“We need a pit in the south valley floor, but at the same time this is not the appropriate place,” Commissioner Doug Monger said during a hearing where not one resident spoke out against the proposal.

Because of the board’s stance, Elam Construction and Native Excavating do not know if they will submit a formal application to the county’s planning department.

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“We will talk about it,” said Ed MacArthur, owner of Native Excavating. “But I don’t know what we are going to do at this point.”

The two companies are proposing to mine about 26 acres of 90 acres of land owned by MacArthur. The companies are proposing to extract 2.9 million tons of gravel for seven years from the property that is neighbored by the D Bar K Motel and Mount Werner Veterinary Hospital.

The proposed mine would include crusher and wash plant operations, but not concrete and asphalt plants.

“We have made some significant changes,” said Michele Jensen, a project manager for Elam Construction. “Last year, you were looking at a full-blown mining operation. Please give us seven years. If we extract all the material in less than seven years, we will be done.”

In May 2001, the two companies proposed to mine 4.4 million tons of material on 43 acres of land. That plan proposed the area would be mined for 30 years and include a crusher and asphalt, concrete and wash plants.

Jensen said the reclamation plan for the proposed mine would create a lake that would be inviting for bird habitats.

She also said the reclamation plan would create a “gorgeous entryway into Steamboat Springs we can be proud of.”

Even though the two companies revised the plan and were willing to operate the mine October through January, commissioners pointed out the proposal does not fit in with planning documents.

The property is zoned for agriculture use, and a mine does not fit in with the county’s Master Plan or the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan.

County Comm-

issioner Nancy Stahoviak said because the property is located next to U.S. 40, it would create a negative visual impact.

Jensen said there is not much they can do to mitigate the visual operation of the proposed mine.

“Let’s not build a wall around it,” Jensen said. “We aren’t going to kid anyone about what we are doing. We want to do it in a shorter amount of time and get rid of it.”

The commissioners made their decisions after about a two-hour meeting that was sparsely attended.

Although a single resident did not voice opposition to the proposed pit, the county did receive two letters in favor of the proposal and three against.

One of the letters against the proposal was sent by the Steamboat Springs planning department. The city opposes the plan because of visual impacts, increased traffic and its close proximity to the Yampa River and Haymaker Golf Course.

The commissioners’ stance on the proposal followed the position taken by the Routt County Planning Commission.

In January, the commission reviewed the proposal and was impressed with the reclamation aspect of the plan but could not support it because of its location.

“We still have not found the place where we need to have a gravel pit,” Monger said.

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