Increased sawmill use passes Planning Commission
July 10, 2014
2nd July meeting postponed
The Planning Commission postponed its second meeting of the month from July 24 to July 31 to ensure it had a quorum. All items scheduled for the July 24 meeting will be heard July 31. In addition, a conceptual development plan for the Ptarmigan Inn was tabled Thursday night to July 31.
Steamboat Springs — On Thursday night, the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission approved allowing Rogue Resources to expand its sawmill operation in an industrial part of West Steamboat from an accessory use on the property to a primary use.
The issue still must go before the Steamboat Springs City Council for final approval.
Rogue Resources was approved for an accessory sawmill use in 1997 as part of its excavation business, but more recently, it has started producing an erosion control product made from beetle-killed timber called WoodStraw on the premises that has pushed the sawmill use from accessory to primary.
In addition to producing WoodStraw, Rogue Resources also would like to produce rough-cut dimensional lumber at the West Steamboat site, according to Trent Jones, controller of Rogue Resources and president of Mountain Mine Manufacturing, which sells the WoodStraw.
Jones said Thursday that they started building up sawmill production under the assumption that it already was allowed on the property from previous granted uses.
It wasn't until last summer that the city received complaints, and representatives from the Planning Department said an additional conditional use would be required.
The two main complaints were sawdust and noise.
An inspector from the state Air Pollution Control Division visited the site and determined that the sawmill use would need an Air Pollutant Emission Notice but could function in the meantime given that it met certain standards.
Rogue Resources also has installed multiple measures to trap sawdust, and there have been no complaints since the latest improvements.
Planning Department staff member Toby Stauffer said it wasn't until more recently, when notice about the additional use had been sent out, that concerns with noise were brought to the department's attention.
The sawmill use on the property would have to adhere to the city's noise ordinances no matter what, but there was some discrepancy Thursday night about whether the higher 80 decibel limit stretched until 7 p.m. or 11 p.m. in the industrial zone.
Planning Commission member Michael Buckley said he'd like the city to measure the noise produced by the sawmill to set a benchmark.
The approval for the increased sawmill use came along with 10 conditions approval, two of which had additional conditions or an entire separate plan to adhere to.
Planning Commission member Rich Levy pointed out that the nearest residential neighbors are in West End Village, which is located on land that formerly was zoned for industrial use.
Levy and Planning Commission member Kathi Meyer live in West End Village but are outside the 300-foot area around Rogue Resources that requires notice per the city's code.
Levy said that while he's sympathetic to the concerns raised by West End Village residents, it would not change his view.
"Mainly because they're in an industrial zone," he said. "It's what we're supposed to be doing there."