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Gravel pit permit still debated

Lafarge must address county commissioners' concerns

Gary E. Salazar

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners has determined a gravel pit in the south Yampa Valley is needed but is not yet ready to make a decision regarding a proposal by Lafarge Corp.

The three-member board said because of the growth in southern Steamboat Springs specifically growth at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area a gravel pit in the south valley is necessary.

Because of the board’s determination during a Tuesday night meeting, Lafarge plans to submit an application by the end of the year to mine 100 acres of land on the More Ranch, which is six miles south of Steamboat Springs on the east side of Colorado 131.

However, the commissioners notified the company Tuesday night the application must address numerous issues and concerns raised by the Planning Commission, board and residents.

“We need to go beyond the minimum state regulations to create an appropriate site,” Commissioner Doug Monger said. “I do have a lot of concerns that will be dealt with. I envision this petition taking up a fair amount of my time in the next year.”

Lafarge plans to submit the application following hours of meetings with the Planning Commission and the commissioners.

Lafarge wanted input from the two governing bodies before submitting the application for the permit.

Gary Tuttle, who is the director of land resources for the company, was pleased the commissioners agreed with its premise a gravel pit is needed in the south valley because of the need in southern Steamboat Springs.

“We want the resource to be near our customers,” Tuttle said. “We have our work cut out for us. We have some high standards to meet.”

However, the board’s message was disappointing to a resident group, Concerned Property Owners in South Valley, who opposes the gravel pit.

John Holloway spoke for the resident group and wanted the commissioners to tell the company to look for another location outside of the south valley.

“I was hoping we would not have to waste taxpayer money,” Holloway said of the hearing process the proposal will require.

Holloway said the resident group is prepared to fight the gravel pit as the permit will progress through the Planning Commission and once again to the commissioners.

Concerns the commissioners raised for a gravel pit on the More property are extensive.

Concerns the commissioners raised include visual impact, water discharge, whether the property is in the flood plain and if wetlands on the property can be preserved.

Commissioner Dan Ellison said mitigating the visual impact of the gravel pit through buffers and existing vegetation will be key.

How the company plans to reclaim the property once the gravel pit operations cease is also an issue commissioners are concerned with.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak wants the company to examine alternatives to reclaim the property other than making a lake. Stahoviak is worried of fog the lake could emit onto Colo. 131.

Other concerns the company will have to address include the mitigation of pollution, dust, displaced wildlife and truck traffic.

Currently, Lafarge has two pits open in the south valley, but those pits are expected to be out of material soon.

Lafarge wants to open up a new pit in the south valley to continue to support growth in the southern part of Steamboat Springs.

The county estimates that if growth in the valley remains stable, the More pit would last for about 12 years.

Holloway fears if the gravel pit is approved, future generations will be impacted.

“These gravel pits last a long, long, long time,” he said. “If this pit is adopted, it could be there for all of our natural life. These always start out as small facilities but grow during a long period of time.”


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