Steamboat Springs The Routt County Planning Commission has tabled today's hearing on the latest gravel pit proposal.
This one would be located one-half mile south of Milner.
The consultant on the project said he wasn't happy to hear it had been delayed after the Colorado Department of Transportation lost the traffic study twice.
"We got two letters they received it, then they said they didn't," said Kent Crofts, consultant for the Camilletti/Milner gravel pit. "So when the county found out about that, they decided to table us."
The delay will give opponents a couple of more months to beef up their research on why the Camilletti/Milner gravel pit might be bad for their community.
"We're talking about the environment, the destruction of wetlands, cottonwoods and raparian areas," said Loretta Van Norstrand, a resident of Saddle Mountain Ranchettes near Milner.
Camilletti and Sons is seeking a final special-use permit to begin mining a 50-acre site bounded by the confluence of Trout Creek and the Yampa River.
Crofts, Camilletti's mining and environmental consultant, said his firm has worked on mitigating the environmental concerns of the Planning Commission, including cottonwood trees in the area.
"The groundwater is coming from the river to those trees; we're not intercepting that water," Crofts said. "This pit will result in an increase in cottonwoods."
A series of gravel pit proposals coming through the county development 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 proposal was praised by some, residents from affluent neighborhoods around the Lafarge/Werner pit site didn't want to look at a pit.
The vocal and aggressive group eventually swayed the commissioners to refuse a special-use permit for mining gravel. The commissioners cited the impact on views in the South Yampa Valley as the main reason for rejecting the Lafarge/Werner gravel pit.
While Milner residents say the environmental impact is their biggest concern, Van Norstrand is frustrated by what she sees as discrimination against people living west of Steamboat, especially the Milner area.
"There are 10 pits in our area," Van Norstrand said. "We've also got the landfills, we've got the junkyard and we got the beetle-infested logs on the Camilletti property.
"The commissioners think no one's interested in west of Steamboat and so they don't care."
Van Norstrand said she is happy for the south valley's defeat of Lafarge, but she said she feels that folks in Milner are ignored.
"We're providing gravel for all of the people wanting very expensive second homes," she said, referring to trophy homes on the south side of Steamboat Springs. "They don't live around here, but they're getting our gravel."
One of the problems Milner has is that it's not included in any area plan that outlines how towns and communities should be treated in the whole scheme of development.
Stuart Orzach, a Steamboat resident who has opposed gravel pits, pointed out that South Yampa Valley is preserved as a Class 1 scenic area in its area plan.
Milner doesn't have an area plan, and residents don't have that to lean on, Orzach said.
Both Orzach and Van Norstrand said they wished the county commissioners would hold off on approving any gravel pits until a complete study of gravel needs and supplies is done for the Yampa Valley.
While that's not likely, a group of citizens, planning officials and members of the gravel industry are working on a matrix that evaluates gravel sites. The matrix will be used as a tool for county commissioners to make more informed decisions on when and where gravel pits should be located.
In other county planning news, the Planning Commission will review a special-use permit for Civil Constructors Inc. in the construction of the Steamboat Springs Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements Project.
The Planning Commission will also look at a petition to consolidate seven lots inside the Steamboat Lakes subdivision.
Planning Commission meets today at 7 p.m. in the hearing room of the Routt County Courthouse Annex located at 136 Sixth St. in Steamboat Springs.