County planning amends mining permit

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The Routt County Planning Commission made few friends Thursday night in forging out a recommendation to extend a concrete plant and an asphalt-batch plant permit by one year and nine months for LaFarge Corp.

LaFarge originally asked for a seven-year extension for a permit to run the plants that would have ran out in March of 2003. That permit also allowed the company to mine in the North and South pits, which are just south of U.S. 40 on Colorado 131. However, LaFarge officials came to the table Thursday with a proposal that could have ceased operations in 2004, pending a gravel mine permit for another property gaining county approval.

"Our overall goal is to remove all of our operations to a site we've leased from the More family," said Gary Tuttle, of LaFarge.

LaFarge has mined gravel in that area for more than 20 years and now is looking for another spot. Tuttle said the extension would allow for LaFarge to stay in business while the company goes through the approval process on the More Ranch, which is south of its existing operations.

Some residents in Routt County said they didn't care to see LaFarge stay in business at that site any longer than permits allowed.

Steamboat City Councilwoman Kathy Connell told planning commissioners the city doesn't support the extension. She said it is time to close and reclaim the pits as existing permits require.

"I think you have the trust of the people to think about," she said.

Planning commissioners decided to recommend that LaFarge run the concrete and asphalt plants until Dec. 1, 2003 and reclaim the property by Dec. 1, 2005. Planning Commission Chairman Troy Brookshire said he didn't want to tell LaFarge to get out of town and that it was important to have an ending date. He said he thought the one year and nine month extension was generous.

"We need until December 2004," LaFarge Vice President Steve Wood said after the hearing. He said the 2003 date won't give the company enough time.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will have the final say on the matter Aug. 12.t

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