Milner A new era of landscaping arrived at the landfill Thursday night.
The Routt County Regional Planning Commission unanimously approved a new maintenance building for the Milner Landfill. But not until Les Liman of Twin Landfill Corporation agreed to build a berm and plant shrubs to shield the view of the building and its storage yard from U.S. 40.
Specifically, the action taken by Planning Commission amended the existing conditional use permit for the Milner landfill to allow it to build a 30- by-60-foot maintenance building. The new building will allow the landfill crew to maintain heavy equipment indoors.
The exterior of the building is planned to be metal painted either gray or tan.
Liman estimates the building, which would replace an existing trailer at the entrance to the landfill, is about 4,000 feet from U.S. 40, west of Milner. However, staff planner John Eastman recommended the landfill operators be required to build a 4-foot berm and plant three, 6-foot evergreen trees on the berm. The building site is elevated substantially above the highway grade.
Planning commissioner Fred Nichols wasn't satisfied with the landscaping requirement.
"I would like to see more than three threes," Nichols said. "I would like to see a minimum of 10 trees, 6 feet tall. Is that a problem?"
"Yes, that's a problem," Liman responded.
Liman protested that he didn't have access to enough water to keep the trees irrigated.
"I don't have any water rights out there, and I'm real concerned about maintaining vegetation. If we start getting into extensive landscaping, it's going to be a problem."
Pressed by Nichols, Liman said he had limited well rights to enough water "to flush a toilet, that's about all."
"I n my view, screening is more appropriate when a building is close to a highway or public right of way," Liman said. "This building will be about 4,000 feet from Highway 40. I don't think people are going to know what they're looking at anyway. Are we screening barns now?"
"No, we're not, but I can see that entire backhoe," kept in the landfill yard, Nichols responded. He said that, in addition to the landscaping, he wanted assurances that scrap materials stored for resale in the landfill yard would be confined to a system of bins, instead of scattered about as, he said, they are now.
Commission Chairman Troy Brookshire agreed with Nichols that the landscape screening is needed to shield views of more than just the building.
"My perception is there's an awful lot of equipment there," he said.
"Put a few more trees on that berm and I think we'll all be happy," Nichols said.
Brookshire moved the parties toward a compromise when he pointed out that evergreen trees will look foreign on the sagebrush hills near the landfill.
Eastman suggested that large native shrubs like chokecherry and serviceberry would look more natural on the site as well as be more resistant to drought. Liman said he would be amenable to planting the shrubs.
Ultimately, Nichols moved to approve the amendment to the special use permit, subject to a series of conditions, but deliberately did not specify the number of shrubs that must be planted on the berm, leaving that up to the applicants and Eastman.
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