Consultant throws stones at gravel pit application
A former Garfield County planner sharpened his hired pencil in efforts to riddle the application for the proposed Mamm Creek gravel pit application near Rifle.The Garfield County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the Mamm Creek gravel pit special use permit application at 1 p.m. on Monday.Land use consultant Eric McCafferty, who worked for the county from 1995-1998, raised technical, procedural, environmental and aircraft safety issues in a privately funded report submitted to the Garfield County Commissioners Oct. 7.McCafferty contends gravel pit ponds, close the the Garfield County Airport, will attract birds.”From a public safety perspective, (the board of commissioners) would be placing human lives in danger if it approves this proposal without a complete understanding of potential bird-aircraft strikes.”The Mamm Creek gravel pit and processing plant is proposed for 110 acres north of the Interstate 70 frontage road and south of the Colorado River, approximately 1.8 miles east of Rifle. The applicants are John C. Martin, Richard K. Stephenson, Scott M. Balcomb and James and Jean Snyder, doing business as Roaring Fork Resources Inc.The Garfield County planning staff has recommended special-use permit approval for the pit, with 26 conditions. The county commissioners decided not to refer the application to the planning and zoning commission earlier this year, citing the fact that other governmental agencies have already reviewed the application.Lack of planning commission review is one of McCafferty’s main complaints. He wrote in his report, “I know of no other similar proposal that has skipped the (planning commission) hearing and proceeded directly to (county commissioners’) review. Moreover, it now appears Garfield County scrutinizes dog kennels to a much greater degree than a 483-acre industrial project.”McCafferty told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent he was hired by Doug and Dan Grant and two other parties he would not identify, to draft his nine-page report. The Grant brothers operate a gravel pit east of the proposed Mamm Creek gravel pit. They challenged the special-use permit application and the review procedure at county commission meetings in July and September.Balcomb, an applicant, said the Grants’ motive in protesting the special-use permit is clear: They want to keep competition down to keep prices high for their own gravel.”So take the report with a grain of salt,” Balcomb said of McCafferty’s report.Balcomb said McCafferty’s report doesn’t contain anything accurate, and disagreed that the gravel pit might create a hazard for aircraft taking off or landing at the Garfield County Airport.”The FAA has reviewed it extensively and is not concerned,” Balcomb said.The applicants say their plan is to mine 400,000 tons of gravel a year. Based on an estimated total of 4.6 million tons of gravel, the pit’s life span is estimated at 11.5 years.Conditions proposed by county staff include:-Hours of operation from March through November, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday; from December through February, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.-All activities within the gravel pit will operate in compliance with state noise standards.-Prior to the issuance of the special-use permit, the applicant shall address flood mitigation efforts necessary to offset impacts created from pit berms, as they relate to increased water depths and increased velocities in the Colorado River.-The applicant shall submit a plan to mitigate wildlife hazards and habitat changes resulting from mining.
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