Steamboat Springs An eyesore that has plagued Steamboat Springs for nearly 10 years at the entrance to the city will finally be hauled away this summer.
Ed MacArthur, who owns the 89 acres of Bald Eagle Lake property along U.S. Highway 40 south of Steamboat, has struck a deal with Routt County that will allow him to haul away the three unsightly piles containing 90,000 cubic yards of gravel, rock and dirt. The material will be trucked to the Wildhorse Meadows building site, where the fill material is needed for construction.
"It's something that needs to be taken care of," MacArthur said.
Last week, Routt County Planning Director Caryn Fox briefed Routt County Commissioners on the status of MacArthur's request for an administrative permit that would allow him to remove the piles from the property.
"For a long time the community has wanted to address this," said Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak. "I think as far as the community is concerned, this is the best thing."
MacArthur, who also owns Native Excavating, decided to excavate the property and create Bald Eagle Lake after the city turned down annexation in 1997. Digging your own lake would not be allowed in that fashion today, Stahoviak said.
MacArthur wanted to develop the property, but the annexation into the city of Steamboat was turned down at the last hearing. The north end of MacArthur's property had flooded that same day "in probably the first time in 20 years," MacArthur said, which he thinks resulted in the annexation being denied.
MacArthur said he decided to go ahead with building his own lake about a year later thinking he would be able to remove the gravel off the site and continue mining the area. But the county would not issue a mining permit because of the site's proximity to homes. MacArthur was prohibited from selling the material, which he said has a value of between $500,000 and $750,000.
"The County shut me down, preventing me from taking the material off the site, so it's been sitting there," MacArthur said.
In 2005, MacArthur again asked the city to annex the property. He proposed mining the area for four years and then he would donate part of the land to the city in addition to a $500,000 donation to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. The city did not annex the property.
Today, the lake is used as a water skiing lake, and MacArthur gifted a water ramp to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club to use for ski and snowboard freestyle training. MacArthur hosts tournaments and allows clubs and adaptive skiing groups to use the lake. The water tramp will remain and be landscaped with pine and aspen trees.
The permit MacArthur needed to move the material off site required the material be used for a specific project.
Wildhorse Meadow's need for fill material presented the opportunity to remove the piles. There is an added benefit as well.
"If this (material) was coming in from other places, there is a good chance the trucks would be coming through downtown," MacArthur said. "This material has to come from somewhere."
Wildhorse needs about 18,000 truckloads of material, MacArthur said.
His company is the site contractor for Wildhorse Meadows. Wildhorse will not be billed for the material but is paying for the loading, hauling, placement, compacting and shaping of the material, MacArthur said.
The piles will be removed in two phases using six dump trucks, which will make 84 roundtrips daily. They will travel onto U.S. Highway 40 from Bald Eagle Lake and turn onto Pine Grove Road by the Mountain Fire Station. The trucks will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to avoid peak traffic. Hauling would not occur on weekends.
The schedule calls for the trucks to start hauling soon and be finished by Aug. 1.
MacArthur is working closely with the city of Steamboat for traffic and the Colorado Division of Wildlife to ensure a bald eagle's nest is not disturbed. He also is working with Mount Werner Water to make sure the water supply is not contaminated. The property will be reclaimed, meaning topsoil will be added and grass seed planted.
MacArthur said he has no plans to seek annexation into the city once the piles are removed, but he might build two houses, which is allowed by right.
"Our goal is to stay in the county," MacArthur said.
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