GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - The Garfield Board of County Commissioners needs more time to digest reams of data on a proposed waste transfer and recycling facility near Carbondale before they decide how to vote on the project.
That was the message Commissioner Mike Samson relayed to more than 30 citizens who packed a hearing room in Glenwood Springs Monday afternoon to comment on the transfer station, proposed by local waste hauler Mountain Roll Offs Inc. (MRI).
The new data includes feedback on MRI's operations plan from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, as well as updated designs and traffic analysis.
The state agency has also requested more information on a range of issues, including how MRI will maintain the facility's floor to prevent leakage, whether the company will store recycling materials outdoors, and how it will deal with runoff and windblown waste at the site.
Although the commissioners did not discuss the state health department's feedback on Monday, they heard testimony from four residents and a consultant jointly retained by several homeowners associations.
The commissioners continued the public hearing to Tuesday, Dec. 11, when they will hear comments from county staff, MRI employees and the public who wish to weigh in on the project, before making a final decision.
The consultant, Douglas Jeavons of Denver-based BBC Consulting, said homeowners within three quarters of a mile of the facility could see their property values drop by as much as 8 percent if the transfer station is built, with lower impacts for homes farther away.
The conclusion was based on a 2007 study of waste transfer stations in Israel. The body of formal research on such stations, Jeavons said, is fairly slim.
"Residents near existing stations have reported nuisance issues and traffic issues," he said. "This is not a benign facility."
Jeavons echoed the claims of real estate agent Scott Bayens, who said such an industrial project would depress home values in an area prized for its peace and quiet and open space.
"This is a bell that can't be un-rung," Bayens said. "It's the industrialization of rural Carbondale."
The project, to be located about two miles east of Carbondale on County Road 100, would serve mainly as a sorting facility.
Waste and recycling from the surrounding area could be hauled there, separated, then bundled for transport to landfills or recycling centers.
From the beginning, the plan has faced stiff opposition from many neighbors and Carbondale residents. At a marathon public hearing Sept. 17, more than 150 people commented on the project, many raising concerns about increased truck traffic, odors, fire hazards and other issues.
Given the opposition of many Carbondale residents to increased truck traffic through town, MRI would likely have to fund the expansion of the Catherine's Store Bridge to ensure access for its semi trucks if the project goes forward.
The company recently hired SGM Engineering to produce a bridge-widening feasibility study.
On Monday, MRI attorney Larry Green said his clients had no response to criticism from the consultant or Carbondale residents, but would respond to feedback at the next meeting on Dec. 11.
In other action, the commissioners:
• Approved a grant of $2,000 to the Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association. According to Hockey Director TK Kwiatowski, the association serves 200 youths from Aspen to Grand Junction. The group had requested $6,000 to support its scholarship fund, which aids needy families with hockey-related expenses.
• Authorized Kirby Wynn, the county's oil and gas liaison, to submit a letter to the U.S. Forest Service regarding the White River National Forest Oil and Gas Leasing Environmental Impact Statement. Commissioner Tom Jankovsky requested that the letter state the commissioners' position that County Road 117 in Glenwood Springs (also known as Four Mile Road) is unsuitable as a haul route for oil and gas-related traffic. Public comments are due Nov. 30.