An asphalt and concrete batch plant will be constructed southeast of Rifle, after the principal owner of the Rifle Airpark withdrew an appeal of a decision to allow the operation within the undeveloped business park.Bob Howard, president of Airport Land Partners and general partner in Airport Business Park Corp., appealed the Rifle Planning and Zoning Commission's decision on Sept. 25 to grant a conditional use permit for asphalt and concrete batch plants and accessory uses, including crushing activity and storage materials such as rock, asphalt and concrete and storage of landscaping materials, such as topsoil and rock, to Bedrock Resources and Frontier Paving.That's the same company that applied for Garfield County permission to operate south of the airport and near the Eagle Springs Organic Farm earlier this year, but were denied by the county commissioners after vocal opposition. They were granted a permit for a contractor's yard and asphalt recycling operation southeast of Rifle.However, at the Nov. 7 city council meeting, Howard withdrew the appeal after hearing the company could fail to close on the purchase of the site and suffer a large monetary loss."I guess I'll have to trust in staff to make sure the site plan mitigates as much impact as possible," Howard said. "I don't like it, but Charlie [Ellsworth, owner of Frontier Paving] is facing financial disaster if he doesn't get that contract signed, on top of all the money he spent on the first application."Bedrock Resources planned to close on the purchase of the site from a company called Southwest 7 LLC in New York City by last Friday, so overturning the decision or returning the application to the planning and zoning commission "would essentially kill the deal," said attorney David McGonaghey of the Garfield & Hecht law firm.Frontier Paving needs a new site since the company's Flag Sand and Gravel site is close to closing and reclamation is to begin shortly, wrote McGonaghey.Howard claimed the application was incorrectly identified the current owner of the parcel and other procedural mistakes that should overturn the commission's approval. Howard also noted the agenda topic, including the public hearing, comments and action by the commission, lasted just over 13 minutes. Howard said he missed the planning commission hearing due to a miscommunication while he was out of town."From the beginning, we've encouraged everything we do up there to be to a high standard," Howard said. "We want it to be a high quality office park, head and shoulders above everything like it between Edwards and Grand Junction.""Given what we've done so far, all the time and millions of dollars that's been invested, an asphalt plant is not compatible, it's inconsistent with the other uses out there," Howard continued.Howard noted that if "hundreds of acres of vegetables were an issue with their first plan, I'd think a thousand square foot building and hundreds of workers should prevent this from being considered.""This site is in the city of Rifle, so what happened in the Garfield County application doesn't apply," McGonaghey countered.Assistant City Manager Matt Sturgeon said neither the county nor Colorado Mountain College, as adjoining property owners, objected to the application."To us as a staff, it seems like a logical place for an asphalt plant, with the conditions we proposed," Sturgeon said.Staff recommended the approval of the permit with five conditions: Landscaping along Airport Road to city standards, facade and color improvements to the current blue building to lessen its visual impact, all required permits should be obtained and followed, and truck traffic will use the Mamm Creek interchange for most projects.Bedrock Resources plans to locate the industrial uses (asphalt and concrete batch plants) next to the Tri-State Generation and Transmission co-generation power plant, 3885 Airport Road. Surrounding the batch plants, the product piles will be placed to screen the plants from adjacent commercial and industrially zoned parcels. Towards the front of the property, the shop, storage and offices are planned. Access into the property from Airport Road will be widened to safely accommodate additional traffic. "We appreciate Mr. Howard's decision and we'll make every effort to make sure our operation meets everyone's satisfaction," McGonaghey said at the end of the hearing.
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