Planning approves coal truck change

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The Routt County Planning Commission on Thursday gran--ted Xcel Energy a permit to use larger trucks to haul coal.

The decision by the planning commissioners amends Xcel Energy's special-use permit for hauling coal on Routt County Road 27.

The Planning Commission: n Approved the final plat for the Neighborhoods at Young's Peak 111-lot subdivision in Stagecoach.

n Approved a special-use permit for the construction and operation of a private airstrip at Chicken Creek Ranch.

n Approved a conditional-use permit for Anchor Way Baptist Church's plans to build a Student Life Center for teenagers and youths.

The company hauls 900,000 tons of coal a year -- half of the 1.8 million tons it uses -- from Twentymile Coal Mine to help fuel the Hayden Power Station.

Commissioners granted the company's request to use 44-ton trucks instead of 25-ton trucks. The company is required to limit trips to 10 an hour, and each truck must have an identification number so motorists and residents can report any problems or issues.

Commissioners were hesitant to grant the company's request. The company is working to find a way to haul the coal by rail. Until that happens, commissioners said, they are concerned about truck traffic compromising motorists' safety on C.R. 27.

"We've been listening to ideas for two years; now, we're the worse for public safety," Planning Commissioner Wayne Adamo said.

Xcel officials also requested that they be able to allow different truck configurations, and they wanted to amend the $3 per ton fee the company pays the county for road improvements. Commissioners did not approve those amendments.

In other business, the Plan--ning Commission reviewed and approved a conditional-use permit for all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile rides, tours and rentals through Steamboat Lake Outfitters.

Commissioners allowed the company to expand its operations by adding five snowmobiles to its fleet. The company also will be allowed to add a 5 p.m. ATV tour to its itinerary.

Walt Adams, a general man----ager for Steamboat Lake Out--fitters, also requested that the company be allowed to let guests of lodging guests, such as friends and family who are staying in the area, join in on tours. The friends or family would ride their own vehicles and would not rent from Steamboat Lake Outfitters.

"It would provide a more satisfactory stay to those that are already with us," Adams said.

Mike Weber, an adjacent pro--perty owner, told commissioners he didn't like the idea of allowing lodgers to ride with friends who aren't staying at Steamboat Lake Outfitters.

"If you did guests of guests, it would be too hard to enforce," Weber said.

Commissioners approved the guests measure. They also renewed the company's permit for three years, with the condition that company officials do an annual check-in with county planning staff.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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