If you go
What: Routt County Planning Commission meeting with a public hearing on a special-use permit application for Steamboat Sand and Gravel Mine
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Commissioners Hearing Room in the Routt County Courthouse
Other: Unless the Planning Commission tables the matter, the Routt County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to hear the application at 6 p.m. July 27. If granted a county permit, the next step would be to obtain a state mining permit.
Steamboat Springs The developers of the Steamboat Sand and Gravel Mine think they will have answered all of the concerns of Routt County officials when they appear before the Planning Commission on Thursday night to seek a special-use permit for the proposed gravel pit off Colorado Highway 131.
“We are meeting or exceeding every condition put on Lafarge,” Ed MacArthur, of Alpine Aggregates LLC, said Tuesday.
He was referring to a previous permit issued in May 2005 that Lafarge West never acted on. That permit process drew rigorous protests from neighbors in the South Valley.
The fall 2009 pre-application hearings for the new permit drew about 55 people, most of whom did not get up to speak.
MacArthur, who owns an excavating business in Routt County, hopes to mine a layer of gravel 30 feet deep on a 111-acre hay meadow close to the Yampa River about 6 miles south of town on Colo. 131.
He has pledged to reclaim pockets of mining activity in 15 phases as he works through the project during the course of 18 to 20 years while disturbing no more than 25 acres at any time.
The developers anticipate mining as much as 300,000 tons of gravel per year. All of the gravel would be crushed and screened on site. No concrete or asphalt would be produced on the site.
MacArthur’s proposal is similar to that of Lafarge, but he said Tuesday that during seven months of negotiations he has worked out agreements with his two closest neighbors that have removed the objections they voiced to the commissioners last fall. The expectation is that he could be relieved of constraints placed on the Lafarge permit that denied that company the ability to mine 11.4 acres along the northern permit boundary.
MacArthur said he had worked hard to reassure neighboring property owners Ren Martyn and Jace Romick.
“I know they aren’t going to object,” MacArthur said. “We have agreements. I can’t talk about all the different arrangements. We’re doing business, that’s correct. But there are no cash payments.”
MacArthur confirmed he had agreed to meet his wetland mitigation requirements off site at Finger Rock Preserve, a wetlands bank developed by Martyn several years ago in South Routt. MacArthur added that his agreement with Romick includes future access to ponds created by the mining operation when restoration is complete in the future.
Most of the promises he’s made to Martyn and Romick are designed to allay their concerns about noise and visual impact, and potential harm to water for irrigation and domestic use.
“We’ve agreed to monitor their wells closely, and I would have three days to fix it if” there were negative impacts on the water supply, MacArthur said.
Neither Martyn nor Romick could be reached on their cell phones late Tuesday afternoon.
County Planner Rebecca Bessey said the primary concerns expressed by the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners last year related to noise, water quality, hours of operation, safe access to Colo. 131 and the details of how landscaped berms intended to screen views of the gravel pit would be built and later removed.
In a memo to the commissioners, Bessey said Alpine Aggregates has made a number of changes to its approval in response to the feedback it received during the pre-application process.
“One of the biggest is the (residential subdivision) is off the table,” she said
Bessey said the county was reluctant to entertain the proposed land preservation subdivision because it would involve an unusually long vesting period for the development permit.
“That could be 20 years from now,” she said. “We don’t know if the LPS regs will still be around by then.”
Bessey said the developers also have agreed to limit their Saturday activity to trucking gravel away from the site — they will not mine, crush or screen gravel Saturday or Sunday. Further, during the months when the open water of the river tends to create a fog bank on Colo. 131, the gravel mine operators will not begin trucking operations until 10 a.m.
“The hauling (limitations) are a tough thing for me. We start very late,” MacArthur said. “It’s going to be difficult to set up our hauling schedules.”
Lafarge ultimately won approval for its gravel mining operation May 20, 2005, but found the conditions placed on the approval so onerous that it took the county to court about some of them. The county prevailed, and Lafarge withdrew.