County to rule on fan

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The Routt County Board of Commissioners will have the final say today on whether Twentymile Coal Company's special-use permit should be revoked or amended.

The review is the result of complaints from residents about noise from a large mining fan.

On Dec. 16, the Routt County Planning Commission recommended that the permit not be revoked because no violations were found. Rather, the commission recommended amending the permit to require more noise mitigation.

Routt County Planner John Eastman said that additional complaints have been received about noise since that Planning Commission meeting, and that Twentymile also had submitted a schedule for installing additional noise mitigation.

Under that project, the fan would be turned 90 degrees toward the south, which could reduce or eliminate the noise, Eastman said. The proposed schedule estimates the project will be finished by June.

That the permit has been called up for review suggests it is a serious or controversial issue.

"It's fairly rare for county commissioners to formally call up a special use permit for a review," Eastman said. "It does not happen very often."

The coal mine fan elicited far more complaints than any issue the Planning Department considered in 2004, he said.

Twentymile began operating the exhaust fan in June of 2003. The fan helps ventilate underground mine shafts.

Complaints began almost immediately.

The company installed a silencer, but residents of Whitwood, Deerwood and other subdivisions south of Steamboat Springs and less than 10 miles from the fans have said they could still hear the noise, which has been described as a high-pitched hum most annoying late at night and early in the morning.

County commissioners can follow the Planning Commission's recommendation, leave the permit as it is, add additional conditions to the permit, or revoke the permit.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will consider this issue at 4 p.m. in the Hearing Room of the Courthouse Annex, 136 6th St.


-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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