‘A publicity stunt’: RMR lawyers respond to Glenwood Springs’ attempt to join lawsuit

The Rocky Mountain Resources quarry north of the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is shown in this October 2018 file photo.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent file

RMR Industrials is accusing the city of Glenwood Springs of political motivations in seeking to intervene in a lawsuit between the quarry and Garfield County.

The city’s motion to intervene “is not a legal brief. It is a publicity stunt that the Court should refuse,” according to the filing, written in part by RMR’s Glenwood Springs-based attorney David McConaughy.

The lawsuit, which stems allegations that RMR violated a county permit, has nothing to do with Glenwood Springs, attorneys for RMR wrote in the Jan. 27 filing.

The city asked to intervene in the lawsuit Jan. 6, claiming to have “direct and concrete interest in this litigation to protect its municipal interests, its recreational and aesthetic characteristics and economic revenue,” city attorney Karl Hanlon wrote in the court filing.

In a response to that motion, RMR said the city has no direct interest in the case, but wants to be part of the lawsuit for publicity in the fight against the quarry’s proposed expansion plans, which are not at issue in the lawsuit.

Glenwood Springs “wants to wage ‘war’ against RMR, for which it has allocated $1.25 million,” RMR’s filing said, referring to Mayor Jonathan Godes’ November statements against the proposed quarry expansion.

RMR claims the actual reason for Glenwood Springs’ attempt to join the lawsuit is politics, and responded strongly.

“The city is fighting on the wrong battlefield in a skirmish that doesn’t concern it. This case is not the proper venue for City’s (sic) fight with RMR over the proposed quarry expansion,” RMR’s filing stated.

RMR sued Garfield County in May 2019 after the commissioners determined the quarry was violating five aspects of a special use permit.

RMR’s lawsuit argued that the county lacks jurisdiction to enforce a permit in areas that differ from other permits from the Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Department of Reclamation and Mining Safety.

The county’s attorneys disagreed, and Glenwood Springs argues that any weakening of regulatory authority would hurt its own enforcement of regulations and environmental protections, including pollution controls.

But RMR responded that, “In reality, pollution is not at issue, there is no threat of RMR’s operating without local government oversight, and this proceeding will not change the regulatory oversight of mines and quarries in Colorado.”

RMR also claimed that the limestone coming from the quarry helped make it possible to construct the new Grand Avenue Bridge, which opened in November 2017. The quarry implied that its proximity to the town helped the project be completed 10 days ahead of schedule.

“That achievement may not have been possible but for the availability of material purchased from RMR by City contractors within 2 miles of the project site,” the filing states in a footnote.

Selling that rock for construction is particularly pertinent, since one of the five alleged violations to the county’s permit is that RMR was selling material that it was not allowed.

The county’s permit, which RMR inherited when it purchased the quarry from CalX, states that the quarry is restricted to selling limestone dust, of chemical grade, which is used for fire suppression in coal mines.

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