CARBONDALE, Colorado - Opponents of a solid waste transfer station approved by Garfield County commissioners Tuesday to operate at an industrial site east of here could seek an injunction to halt the project, a spokesman for the opposition group said Wednesday.
"We're furious," Mitch Knutson said of the commissioners' 3-0 vote to approve the plans by local waste hauler Mountain Rolloffs Inc. (MRI).
"A lot of us think that this was a done deal from the minute they filed the application," said the Denver-area resident, who owns property in the Roaring Fork Preserve and founded the neighborhood coalition known as "Don't Trash Carbondale."
"It was like they just went through the motions to make it appear like they were listening to us," Knutson said.
The Preserve is one of five rural subdivisions located in the vicinity of the former Mid-Continent coal loadout facility on County Road 100, where MRI plans to operate the waste transfer station.
Knutson and several other residents and property owners said during an eight-hour-long continued public hearing Tuesday that the facility would destroy residential and agricultural property values in the area.
The coalition offered a study prepared by Denver-based BBC Consulting suggesting local property values could decline by $16.5 million once the trash facility is operating.
Opponents also cited safety concerns related to heavy truck traffic, fire hazards, windblown trash, noise, odor and air pollution in asking the commissioners to deny the application.
MRI is required to take measures to mitigate those and other impacts associated with the operation as part of the two dozen conditions of approval imposed by the county.
Still, Knutson said a class action lawsuit by area homeowners against the county is likely.
"We will file a lawsuit, and we may even look at an injunction to halt the operation," Knutson vowed. "They will regret the decision."
MRI already operates part of its trash-hauling business at the former loadout site, which is owned by IRMW II LLC and has been zoned for industrial uses for decades.
Commissioners cited that fact in approving the new operation.
The transfer station would be used as a central collection center for trash and recyclable materials from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. The materials are to be sorted and bundled for transport to local landfills or recycling centers on semi-trailer trucks within 24 hours.
Several residents who spoke at Tuesday's meeting said even the prospect of a waste transfer station have prevented them from selling their properties over the past two years.
"It hasn't even happened yet, but by the mere discussion of this facility, it is already impacting these people," said longtime Carbondale real estate agent Lynn Kirchner, who said she's had prospective buyers walk away after learning of the plans.
But a real estate expert hired by MRI, Basil Katsaros, countered those claims, saying any impacts on people's ability to sell their properties is likely "self-imposed."
Katsaros pointed to the numerous "Don't Trash Carbondale" signs and other displays put up by the opponents along County Road 100 for possibly turning away buyers.
He also discounted the BBC study, which cited a study done in Israel that concluded waste transfer stations in that country have resulted in lowering nearby property values.
"To go to Israel for a comparison is unconscionable," Katsaros said at the Tuesday hearing.
He added, "a properly designed and developed facility would have no impact" on surrounding properties and property values.