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November 14, 2012
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Carbondale-area gravel pit expansion gets the OK

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A suggestion by one Garfield County commissioner to prohibit a future asphalt batch plant as part of an agreement to allow expansion of the Blue Gravel Pit near Carbondale turned out to be not quite so simple.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky initially proposed the condition as part of the Board of County Commissioners' eventual approval Tuesday of a 45-year, 60-acre expansion to the gravel pit operated by Western Slope Aggregates (WSA).

However, after a lengthy discussion about the legalities around prohibiting a use that wasn't part of WSA's application, Jankovsky agreed to drop the idea.

Jankovsky acknowledged that an asphalt plant was not envisioned as part of WSA's gravel pit expansion plan. But since the county did prohibit that use when it agreed to an expansion of the nearby Cerise gravel pit, he thought it would be appropriate to do the same for the Blue pit.

"We have two gravel pits side by side there, and it does impact the neighborhood quite a bit," Jankovsky said. "I do have concerns about that impact."

The Blue gravel pit is located on the Blue family ranch east of the intersection of Highway 82 and County Road 103 (Crystal Springs Road) outside Carbondale. It has been in operation since 1981 under a permit to mine gravel on 83 acres of the larger 284-acre ranch.

WSA's plan to expand the pit area by 60 acres (rather than 65 acres as earlier indicated), and to continue mining over the next 45 years, was approved Tuesday with little opposition.

Neighbors, primarily those living in the Wooden Deer subdivision, have previously opposed the expansion. No one showed up to object during Tuesday's public hearing.

Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve the expansion with a long list of conditions aimed at lessening visual, noise, air and other neighborhood impacts.

Among the conditions was a requirement that a new sewer system be built to accommodate the estimated 20 to 30 employees envisioned with the expansion, at the time the main office/scale house building is replaced.

A concrete plant will continue to operate on the site, but WSA does not have plans to put in an asphalt batch plant, company representative Bill Roberts said.

However, it wouldn't want the preclude the opportunity to request permission for a temporary asphalt plant should the opportunity arise, he said.

"We're not wanting to get into the asphalt business," Roberts said. "But sometimes the state highway department will want to put in a temporary plant somewhere for a local paving project. We wouldn't want you to say absolutely not with this application."

An asphalt plant would require a separate land-use application, assistant county attorney Carey Gagnon said. If that use is prohibited in the gravel pit expansion plan, it would require an amendment to the gravel pit permit, she said.

"It becomes a dual application at that point," she said.

County Building and Planning Director Fred Jarman said the county's land-use code does not include a temporary use permit for asphalt batch plants. If either a temporary or permanent asphalt plant were to be proposed in the future, it would have to come before the county commissioners, he said.

In 2010, the county commissioners approved a 23-acre expansion of the Blue pit over 20 years. WSA, which had asked for an additional 64 acres and 45 years at that time, never acted on those approvals.

Company officials said at Tuesday's hearing that the smaller expansion was not economically feasible, so they came back with the request for the larger expansion.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Nov 14, 2012 01:24AM Published Nov 14, 2012 01:22AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.