Wednesday, August 9, 2000
South Routt Tonight, the Routt County Board of Commissioners will decide if Lafarge Corp.'s conceptual proposal for a gravel pit is a good fit for the south valley. Lafarge comes to the board with a recommendation of approval for the conceptual plan from the Routt County Planning Commission.
At the July Planning Commission meeting, numerous neighbors of the proposed pit spoke against Lafarge's efforts to move its operation. Their main argument was that the site for the pit is bad. They said it goes against community master plans in the county defying measures to protect scenic views and entry corridors to Steamboat Springs.
In their recommendation of approval for the pit, planning commissioners said that there is nothing in the master plans that prevents gravel pits, as long as they are mitigated properly.
As conditions of opening the new mine, Lafarge must reclaim its existing pits and must contain land impacts to 45 acres at a time during mining operations.
The new pit would be on Fran Werner's property, on the southwest corner of the Colorado 131 and Werner Lane. Dirt berms would be built 200 feet from Colo. 131 and 100 feet from the adjacent property to hide the pit.
Lafarge estimated the new gravel mine has 7 million to 10 million tons of gravel reserves in a 75-acre area and would have a 23-to-33-year life span.
The Werner pit would be the third gravel mine that Lafarge operates in the same vicinity. Its south pit, which is the only one producing gravel, is expected to close in 2002.
County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said it hasn't been determined whether a new pit is needed in the south valley.
"It's something that we really have to look at," she said.
But she emphasized that Lafarge's conceptual approval hearing is important in its own right.
"This year is the first time we've dealt with gravel pits as conceptual," she said.
That means if the commissioners approve the plan, Lafarge will still have to go through the planning process a second time with more detailed information to secure final approval for the pit.
That doesn't mean an approval at the conceptual level isn't important.
"What you are saying is that you approve that particular land use on that particular piece of land," Stahoviak said.
But that decision is difficult to make when there is opposition to the plan, she said. The root of an approval of a gravel pit is whether it is properly mitigated. But in the decision process, the public comment needs to be factored in, too, she said.
"It's a real tough issue," Lafarge plant manager Bruce Daniel said. "I think I can see both sides of the fence."
Daniel believes the need for gravel for a Colo. 131 widening project and housing developments in the south valley justifies a gravel pit there.
"That's something people need to think about," Daniel said.
To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org