Monday, November 12, 2001
Steamboat Springs Lafarge Corp. will meet with the Routt County Board of Commissioners tonight in the second of its four public meetings as it attempts to get a permit to operate a gravel pit in the south Yampa Valley.
Lafarge wants to mine 100 acres of land on the More Ranch about six miles south of Steamboat Springs on the east side of Colorado 131. The company has two pits open in the south valley right now, which will soon be out of material. The county estimates that if growth continues on a similar scale in the valley, the More pit would last for 12 years.
Tonight's meeting will be the second half of the conceptual planning process, which means the commissioners won't vote on granting the permit. Instead, they will hear Lafarge's proposal, have a roundtable discussion with members of the public who want to comment and then give direction on the validity of the project. On Oct. 18, Lafarge went in front of the Routt County Planning Commission for a similar meeting.
After the meeting, company officials will decided if they want to move forward in the four-meeting permitting process. If they do, they will give their proposal again to the Planning Commission in a future meeting. At that meeting, commissioners will give a recommendation for or against approving the pit for the County Commissioners to consider. Then Lafarge would go in front of the three members of the board for a final decision.
"We have to move forward," said Bruce Daniel, pit manger for Lafarge.
He said the company needs to keep operations moving in the south valley and this is the best site they know of.
This will be the second time in two years Lafarge has tried for a gravel permit in the south valley. The first time was on a piece of land near the two existing pits. Strong opposition from some residents concerned about the visual impact the pit would have on the south valley arose during the permitting process. The County Commissioners denied the permit, saying it was in the wrong place.
Similar opposition has come out against the More Pit.
Attorney John Grassby represents the Concerned Property Owners in South Valley group who oppose the pit. He said the strongest argument against the pit is that it goes against community plans that state the south valley should be preserved in an agricultural state to protect the scenic corridors in that portion of the valley.
"We are suppose to follow those plans and it highly discourages a use like this," Grassby said. "The entire More Ranch is identified as a key open space parcel (in one of the plans)."
There are other concerns about the pit's impact on wetlands, the need for gravel and traffic, he said.
Daniel said the need for gravel is clear in the south valley. Most of the gravel pits in the area are west of Steamboat Springs, while only one is south of town, near Stagecoach. With projected growth south of town along with road projects there, the gravel needs to be close to stay affordable.
"We'll do everything we can to mitigate this thing," Daniel said. "But we feel like this location benefits the community."
The hearing begins at 7 p.m. at Olympian Hall.