Gravel pit ruling favors county

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Routt County officials were justified in the restrictions they placed on Lafarge's proposed gravel pit in the South Valley, a local judge ruled.

District Judge Paul McLimans ruled in favor of the county in a lawsuit filed by Lafarge West in June 2005.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners had approved the company's proposed pit, but Lafarge officials said the five conditions commissioners put in place were beyond their jurisdiction as county commissioners.

The commissioners had stipulated that Lafarge had to remove the concrete batch plant, place 128 acres into conservation easements after the mining is completed, eliminate one phase of the gravel pit, reduce the time trucks could haul gravel from the mine and disturb just 25 acres of land at a time.

The lawsuit challenged all five of the commissioners' stipulations for different reasons, including loss of revenue.

Lafarge officials said the commissioners acted arbitrarily and capriciously. McLimans didn't agree.

"The Court ... concludes that the BOCC property exercised its discretion in imposing the challenged limitations and exclusions when granting the Plaintiff's special use application," the judge's opinion reads.

Gary Tuttle, Lafarge regional land manager, was not happy with the ruling.

"Obviously we're very disappointed. We don't understand the judge's thinking on some of his points," Tuttle said. He said company officials had decided what their next move will be. The pit still is not in operation.

Commissioner Doug Monger said, "We're very happy to say that the judge ruled that the county, in fact, did not act arbitrarily and capriciously."

The commissioners' decision came after four years of debate. The pit proposal was for a 128-acre gravel mining operation east of Colorado Highway 13.

Opponents argued the gravel pit would destroy views in one of the most scenic areas in the Yampa Valley and create traffic problems on Colorado Highway 131.

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