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Gravel pit may see additional life

Gary E. Salazar

— The Routt County Planning Commission approved to extend the permit for a gravel pit south of Steamboat Springs but made a cut to its operations.

The commission approved to allow Western Mobile Northern Inc., a subsidiary of Lafarge Corp., nine additional months to sell existing stockpiles once its 10-year permit expires in March.

“We thought this would go away in March 2002,” said Commissioner Troy Brookshire of the pit that has been mined since 1969.

“Let’s get this over with as soon as we can,” he said.

Because of the commission’s decision, the Routt County Commissioners will take up the issue at a 7 p.m. meeting on Nov. 13, which is when they will make the final decision.

If the commissioners follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the permit will expire Dec. 1, 2002.

Once March is here, the company will have the opportunity to sell its existing material until the expiration date.

“We can sell and ship out the product that is on the floor of the pit and also sell unprocessed material,” said Gary Tuttle, Lafarge director of land and resources.

The work will not include mining of the pit, which is four miles south of Steamboat Springs on Colo. 131.

“We are not asking to crush or wash material,” said Stephen Corn, who is the pit’s business manager.

Although the company received the commission’s approval to extend its permit to sell material, it will have one less day to do so.

The commission decided to allow the pit to operate Monday through Friday and exclude Saturday, which is currently a workday.

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

“As a trade off, Saturday should go,” said Commissioner Donald Alperti.

“We have to show some faith we are shutting this down. It’s time to start doing this.”

Tuttle said he understands the commission’s decision to restrict the pit’s activity.

“It does impact us,” Tuttle said. “We will live with it and work with it.”

During the 90-minute discussion, the commission also made it clear to the company its reclamation plan for the pit needs to be improved.

“This reclamation pit is not what I would like to see out there,” Brookshire said. “You can do a better job.”

At this point, the company plans to transform the pit into a lake.

Commissioners would like to see a plan that contains additional vegetation and is comparable to the reclamation plan of a prior pit in the northern part of the county.

“If it is important for you to have additional time, it is important for the county to know you are putting this money pack into the reclamation project,” Brookshire said.

The commission also ordered the company to work with adjacent property owners on the plan and submit a new plan to county staff.

Brookshire stressed the reclamation plan needs to be aesthetically pleasing since it is an entryway into Steamboat Springs.

He also stressed that the reclamation plan must be up to par since the company is planning to propose a new pit in the southern part of the Yampa Valley.

“If you don’t do this right and muck it up, you have big problems with this community and this board,” Brookshire said.


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