County P&Z delays decision on proposed gravel pit near Rifle
The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission delayed a decision on a proposed gravel pit just east of Rifle Tuesday night because of new information presented by pit operators Rivers Edge LLC and Rocks R Us. The commission continued the hearing until Dec. 13 to give county staff time to consider the information.The Scott Pit on the south side of the Colorado River about one-half mile east of the Interstate 70 Rifle interchange would cover 93 acres and mine 63 acres, producing an expected 3 million tons of gravel over a 10-year period.In presenting the proposal to the commission, senior county planner Fred Jarman outlined three major concerns: impacts to the river floodplain, proximity to a bald eagle nest and visual impacts. He recommended denial of the proposal.He recommended a buffer area of one-quarter mile around the nest, which is located on a neighboring gravel operation owned by LaFarge.Speaking out against the proposal were Rifle’s engineer, attorney, planner and mayor, all of whom expressed concern that the plan could affect the city’s river intake plant across the river from the proposed pit. They also said a large gravel operation would adversely affect the last undeveloped stretch of river that acts as the entrance to the city on the east side.”Under the present set of circumstances we concur with the direction of county staff and city staff and want to let you know City Council stands firmly behind its resolution opposing this gravel pit at this time,” said Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert.Mining engineer Greg Lewicki, who prepared the gravel mining plan for property owner Bill Bailey, said the company was willing to make significant concessions to the county in order to help the plan go forward.”We understand the concern about gravel pits on this corridor. We’re very sensitive to a lot of the comments that have been made,” he said.He said the company would agree to mine only a small portion of the property, about 12 acres, unless and until it had a go-ahead from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which regulates floodplains. Lewicki said the company would limit operations to those 12 acres if FEMA found a larger operation would increase flood levels in the area.However, Lewicki was adamant about not acceding to the planning staff’s recommendation to create a buffer around the eagle nest.”If we have to go with what the staff recommends … the plan falls apart,” he said. “We don’t get the feeling that the nesting pair is that disturbed by gravel pit operation at LaFarge right now.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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