Coal Basin development before Pitkin P&Z |

Coal Basin development before Pitkin P&Z

Lynn Burton

The last piece of Mid-Continent’s once-sprawling Coal Basin operation is slated for Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission review next week.The development application for the 217-acre parcel, located three miles west of Redstone, calls for six home sites of at least 35 acres each, said Suzanne Wolff, a senior planner for Pitkin County.”This is the last piece of Mid-Continent property that didn’t go into public ownership,” Wolff said.The Planning Commission’s public hearing will be held at the Pitkin County Courthouse Plaza at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. The applicant is Midcon Realty LCC, which acquired the property when Mid-Continent declared bankruptcy, said spokesperson Tom Newland.Newland said that at one time, Mid-Continent owned 6,000 acres in the 25-square-mile Coal Basin, a basin which then included 16,000 acres of White River National Forest lands.The basin was a beehive of high-altitude coal mines and roads. The 217-acre parcel slated for development, which is now surrounded by Forest Service lands, was used as a coal wash plant, processing facility, catch basin and offices.Steve Renner, a project manager for the Colorado Bureau of Mined Land Reclamation, said a $3 million Coal Basin reclamation project that started in 1995, after the mines closed, was funded by a bond Mid-Continent posted as part of its state permit process.”No public funds were expended,” Renner said.Reclamation took place on both public and private property under the mining permit’s terms, Renner said.Newland said that after Mid-Continent declared bankruptcy, it initiated a series of Forest Service land swaps that put all but 217 acres of its 6,000 Coal Basin acres into the White River National Forest.Newland said Midcon Realty wanted to sell or trade the 217-acre parcel slated for development to the federal government. A deal was never struck, but the firm hopes it can still happen in lieu of development. “The number one priority is getting it into public lands,” Newland said.The entire properly is listed at $2.1 million, which Newland said Midcon needs to pay for Coal Basin reclamation.Wolff said she has not yet made a recommendation to the Planning and Zoning Commission, but access through the property to public lands is “not an issue.”A nonmotorized trail through the property was created several years ago, and is not affected by the development application, Wolff said.The application calls for three building sites with homes of up to 5,000 square feet each, and two building sites with homes of up to 1,500 square feet each.Details on the sixth site, which is already approved, were not available.Wolff said the development proposal is subject to Pitkin County’s growth management scoring system, which awards points in four categories: availability of services, effect on the environment, wildlife issues and the county’s land use goals.Wolff said the Planning and Zoning Commission will continue the application review into January, but will make the final determination. “It won’t go to the county commissioners,” Wolff said.

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