Wednesday, February 28, 2001
Steamboat Springs The Routt County Planning Commission will take a look at another gravel pit tonight and is sure to hear more complaints from neighbors.
The Camilletti and Sons proposal for a pit near Milner has been amended somewhat to limit the number of truck trips, but the changes might not be enough to make neighbors happy.
The new pit would be a half mile south of Milner. That would put it about 10 miles west of Steamboat Springs in a parcel of land bounded by the confluence of Trout Creek and the Yampa River. That location has local residents upset because they believe it will disturb what they are calling a "fragile ecosystem."
In previous meetings and interviews, residents said they were worried about the destruction of wetlands, cottonwood trees and riparian areas.
The Routt County Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. today in the commissioners' hearing room, upstairs in the courthouse annex, 136 Sixth St.
The mining site will be about 50 acres and has wetlands on the east and west sides of the proposed site. The county planning staff noted that the mining area "avoids the majority of the wetlands, and is predominantly grass and sagebrush."
Environmental consultant Kent Crofts said his clients, the Camillettis, have submitted extensive environmental documents including proof that "ensures the cottonwoods are preserved."
Crofts also said they've made significant changes to the reclamation plan to make the site more attractive.
Another worry of neighbors is safety along rural County Road 179 and the dust that will be created by the rumbling dump trucks.
Lora Werner, whose ranch is four miles south of the proposed pit, already is fed up with the truck traffic she said has increased "phenomenally" in the past two years.
"My hay pasture is coated with dirt. It's unbelievable," Werner said. "My horses spend the first three months of spring coughing because of feeding them hay."
Frank Camilletti was originally asking to take out up to 300,000 tons of gravel per year. He's now requesting a ceiling of 180,000 tons.
"That almost cuts the operation in half, which will cut the traffic in half," Crofts said.
However, Camilletti might be able to take out more gravel if he gets administrative approval for special projects.
Camilletti has offered to pave part of CR 179, but some residents want to keep the gravel road as is. Werner said the paving won't even reach her home so the dust problems will remain.
A series of gravel pit proposals going through the county pipeline this summer sparked a flurry of anti-gravel pit activity, eventually leading to the October defeat of the Lafarge/Werner proposal south of Steamboat Springs.
Although the Lafarge plan was praised by some, south valley residents from affluent neighborhoods around the proposed Lafarge site didn't want to look at a pit. A county-wide petition was brought in and crowds packed every public meeting on gravel pits.
The residents near the Milner site have not been as well organized as folks in the south valley and may not be able to prevent the gravel pit from going in near them. The south valley also was protected by a community master plan that classified it as a scenic area, which caused county commissioners to balk at approving the Lafarge pit.
There already are two other gravel pits within two miles of the proposed Camilletti site.
As for the meeting tonight, Crofts said he is prepared to answer any questions the public has.
But he also offered a warning.
"There are a lot of gravel pits on the verge of closing, or closing in a few years," he said. "With lots of development going on, the county has a significant demand for gravel. We have to start planning long term."
If the Planning Commission recommends approval of the Camillettis' special use permit, it moves on to the Board of County Commissioners for a final decision.