Steamboat Springs Routt County commissioners could decide today whether to sanction a scrap metal recycling business that has been operating since August just south of Oak Creek.
Kelly and Dixie Lipsie are seeking a special use permit needed to continue their business on land they lease from Jack and Andrea Brunton, just north of the intersection of Colorado Highway 131 and Routt County Road 14.
The matter is on commissioners’ agenda for 2 p.m. today.
County Planning Director Chad Phillips confirmed Monday that the land is not zoned for light industrial activity and operators overlooked the need to gain county approval. However, the County Planning Commission voted, 8-0, Feb. 18 to recommend approval of the permit, with a long list of conditions.
The primary concern of county government and the Oak Creek Town Board is that the Lipsies adequately fence and screen views of their recycling yard from motorists on Colo. 131.
Town Board members Wendy Gustafson and Bernard Gagne told the Planning Commission that Oak Creek isn’t opposed to the metal recycling operation. But the board stated that “in its current state, the operation is visually unacceptable for the gateway to the community,” according to meeting minutes.
Kelly Lipsie told the Planning Commission last month that he has a contract with Twentymile Coal Co. to remove its scrap iron and other metals. Every few days, he hauls the metal to Denver for recycling. He said that he has a similar arrangement with the city of Steamboat Springs.
In addition, he said, he gathers unwanted metal materials, including derelict vehicles from ranches and private yards, for recycling. The materials are stored on the Colo. 131 site until they make a truckload.
County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak asked project planner Connie Staponski on Monday to ensure applicants submit a detailed explanation of how they will screen their recycling yard from public view. Stahoviak said the absence of a plan could result in tabling of the petition.
County Commissioner Doug Monger added that he wanted assurances that the Lipsies had sufficiently bonded to ensure future rehabilitation of the site.
The Lipsies have accumulated nearly a dozen letters of support from their neighbors, many of whom wrote that the Lipsies helped them clean up their properties while recycling scrap metal.
“Not only has Mr. Lipsie removed trash and recyclable items from people in Oak Creek,” Candace Johnson wrote, “he has removed items from many of the local ranches in the area. Without his services, ranchers would have unsightly debris covering their properties, some on either Highway 131 or 14.”
Not everyone is in favor of the recycling yard, however. Cynthia J. Crawford, who owns adjacent property on two sides, wrote to tell the commissioners she is “unequivocally opposed.”
“First and foremost, I am concerned about the potential for water contamination,” she wrote. “My property is downgrade of this site and any contaminated water can enter my pasture and ditch system, then travel to my irrigated hay meadow, which then drains directly to the Yampa River. … What was a nice little horse property is now a de facto junk yard.”
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