Steamboat Springs The state has recognized the Routt County Planning Department for exceptional work.
The Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association recently honored county planners with one of its APA Colorado 2002 chapter awards.
The county's gravel pit evaluation guidelines, also known as the gravel pit matrix, caught the eye of the state organization.
The gravel matrix has aided county officials in making better decisions about contentious land-use proposals. Discussions about gravel pits often stir up strife between neighboring landowners who don't want mining in their backyards and gravel pit operators who want to continue doing business in the area.
The gravel matrix provides an impartial tool to weigh the potential impacts of a gravel pit.
"It helps the process work a little bit better," county planner John Eastman said.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners and County Planning Commission refer to the matrix during public hearings because its guidelines provide an impartial standard by which to measure new and existing gravel pits in the county.
The matrix scores several aspects of gravel pits on a scale of 0 to 100. County planners quantify such things as land-use compatibility and visual, traffic, wildlife and cumulative impacts.
A group of local residents and representatives from the gravel pit industry collectively worked with county planners in crafting the guidelines.
Eastman stressed the gravel matrix is not a measurement of how good or bad a gravel pit is but a tool that offers an objective look at how a gravel pit impacts the surrounding area.
Routt County commissioners praised county planners for a job well done. The county did not have to look beyond its own personnel to design and implement the gravel pit matrix, County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
"Our planning staff is dedicated enough and talented enough to figure these kinds of things out," Stahoviak said.