Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Lafarge is back: Its plans for a new gravel pit in the South Valley near Steamboat Springs are scheduled to be heard by Routt County commissioners Dec. 8.
The commissioners' original meeting for the project was in April 2003. Then, they tabled their consideration of the project to get more information from the company.
After receiving that information, which includes a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing Lafarge to disrupt wetlands, the county Planning Department scheduled the meeting for next month.
Plans for the controversial River Valley Resource, which proposes mining gravel on a 128-acre site along Colorado Highway 131, caused heated discussions in 2003 and have continued to spark debate.
At the Dec. 8 meeting, county commissioners could make a decision to approve, approve with conditions or deny the project, or they could table the proposal again to get more information.
The meeting is open to the public, but Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said public comment would be restricted to new information, as public comment was closed at the April 2003 meeting.
The proposed site is on a 128-acre parcel of the More Family Ranch, more than 1,000 feet away from Colo. 131 on the east side. It is just north of Routt County Road 18, or the turnoff to Catamount Ranch.
The proposal includes mining for gravel in five phases, as well as operating a permanent concrete plant, a seasonal crushing and screening plant, and a washing plant, with an estimated operating life of 13 to 15 years. Original plans to have an asphalt plant have been withdrawn.
Gary Tuttle, Lafarge regional land manager, said there has been "good news" lately regarding the gravel pit, starting with the Army Corps' permit.
"We're optimistic," Tuttle said about the county meeting next month. "We've stepped over a couple of big hurdles, and we're happy about that."
Members of the Concerned Citizens group, which formed to lobby against the pit for aesthetic, wildlife and safety reasons, said they would be at the meeting protesting the pit.
"This community and all of the surveys have identified open space, preservation of land and the South Valley as important amenities to our tourist industry and the desirability to live and develop in this community," group member Ken Solomon said. "This (gravel pit) goes in direct contradiction of those concepts."
Meanwhile, the group nominated the South Valley area to receive a spot on Colorado's Most Endangered Places List for 2005, a designation given by the nonprofit group Colorado Preservation Inc.
The area is being considered at the state level along with 11 other sites, and between five and 10 will be chosen for designation. The area made it to the state level last year as well, but was not selected.
Information about the project is available on the Routt County planning Web site, which is accessed at www.co.routt.co.us.
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