Steamboat Springs It was smooth sailing Thursday night for the Routt County Regional Planning Commission, which approved a recommendation for a 10-year permit for a gravel pit near Hayden without any public comment against it.
In fact, the application for the pit included letters from the town of Hayden in support of a new gravel mine and from a Steamboat Springs resident commending the applicants for their effort to control noxious weeds at the site.
With the recommendation for the commission, Ed and Kathy Hockin will go in front of the Routt County Commissioners at 4 p.m. Jan. 3 to ask for an approval of a 20-acre pit, about three miles west of Hayden on the north side of the U.S. 40. The pit would be on Ron Murphy's ranch.
The proposed mine has the capacity to generate 60,000 tons of gravel a year, but is anticipated that the owners will only be able to get about 25,000 tons a year, county planner John Eastman said. It's estimated it will take 3,333 trucks trips a year to move the gravel.
Also at the Routt County Regional Planning Commission meeting Thursday night, the commissioners: Unanimously recommended approval of a storage unit in Phippsburg; Gave a 6-1 recommendation of approval to Robin T. Hill-Wilson for a conditional use permit for a personal training studio and outdoor aerobics facility on County Road 33.
Part of Murphy's land, near where the pit would be built, has an artificial wetlands created, in part, by an irrigation ditch.
"We are certainly going to avoid that," said Gordon Dowling, who is the surveyor for the project. "We won't even include it in the permit."
However, the ditch that feeds into the wetlands is going to be moved, and the Planning Commission expressed concern about that drying up the area.
However, water from the mine, which would be filtered, along with drainage from the Yampa River and another irrigation ditch in the area, would keep the wetland in tact, Dowling said.
Included in the proposal was a reclamation plan, which would be implemented when the 10-year permit runs out.
Planning Commission Chairman Troy Brookshire said he wanted to avoid the reclamation process from creating a "moon" landscape along the Yampa River. Typically, reclaimed gravel mines leave a hole in the ground that fills with water.
"There is some reluctance not to put pond after pond after pond along the Yampa. We're looking for a more natural look," Commissioner Fred Nichols said.
"We're open to do whatever you would like," Dowling responded.
The end result will be an attempt to make the future lake in the gravel pit look more natural, with better fishing access and an island in the middle. About 50 trees will be planted around the lake to help the pit blend into the landscape.
The gravel mine, which is being called the "Murphy pit," will replace the H&H pit, owned and run by the Hockins. That pit stopped production in the fall, but the actual permit to run the mine ran out in 1992. Eastman said the county and the Hockins assumed that the permit was for the lifetime of the mine, which was common for the county to give in the past.
The H&H pit will be reclaimed by September of 2001, according the motion for recommendation by the commission.
Brookshire wanted to adhere to the Routt County Master Plan on the reclamation of the H&H pit by making sure that two pits in the same area wouldn't be in operation at the same time and reclamation began.
"From our perspective, it's an important component," Brookshire said.
Ed Hockin said the requirement of not having two mines going on at one time won't hurt his operation, but he warned that it could hurt some other ma and pop mines because it would mean a period of time of no income.
"If we were still mining that, it would put a hardship on us," he said.
Brookshire also was concerned about the estimated 3,333 trucks a year turning onto U.S. 40 from the mine.
Kathy Hockin said there are staging sites on the side of the road that the Colorado Department of Transportation required them to maintain for the situation.
She also estimated that 80 percent of the trucks would be turning west, to Craig, where most the Hockins' gravel is made into cement then sold to places in Routt County.
Overall, the commission strongly supported the proposal.
"I wish all the gravel pits we saw were this acceptable to the public," Commissioner Bill Norris said.