Hogue gravel pit expansion less controversial than other gravel pits

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— The Routt County Planning Commission voted, 8-1, on Thursday night to recommend approval of an 11.7-acre expansion at one of the closest gravel mining operations to the city of Steamboat Springs.

Gravel permit applications typically are controversial in Routt County, but Planning Director Chad Phillips said Thursday that that has not been the case with the request for a special-use permit to expand the longstanding Hogue River Gravel Pit. It is situated about six miles west of city limits and on the south side of U.S. Highway 40.

“It’s a fairly minor expansion, and it has direct access off of Highway 40,” Phillips said. “As far as complaints, I don’t think we’ve received any.”

The lone dissenting vote was made by Planning Commission member Dick Klumker.

Planning Commission member John Ayer said Friday that the Hogue pit has a long track record of producing gravel delivered primarily to Steamboat.

The Hogue pit is owned by Duckels Construction and has been in place since the 1970s.

The permit application for the new pit expansion anticipates its life would be four to nine years, but the gravel processing plant at Hogue is used to process material from the nearby Bettger pit, and for that reason, the life of the facility could be as many as 15 years.

Portions of the planned expansion area are within the 100-year floodplain, according to staff planner Rebecca Bessey. A floodplain development permit will be required for the expansion, which will be set back 100 feet from the Yampa River, where a berm will be built along the south side of the mined area to prevent the pit from flooding during a storm.

County regulations require that operators of new gravel mines or expansions of 10 or more acres conserve a parcel of nearby land to offset their impact on the landscape. In this case, Duckels would be required to conserve 0.7 acres. In order to work around that requirement, Phillips said, Duckels is proposing to divide the expansion into two phases, the first would involve 9.7 acres and the second would be 2 acres.

Klumker objected to the phasing plan, according to Ayer.

Should Duckels decide to go forward with the second phase, it first would have to obtain county approval for the 0.7 acres to be conserved.

Phillips said because of the situation with the Hogue pit, he will ask the Routt County Board of Commissioners during an April 4 work session whether they want to revisit the county’s policy on offsetting the impacts of gravel pits with conserved land elsewhere and whether it delivers a community benefit.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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