Despite concerns, gravel pit moves closer to annexation
SILT – The Silt Board of Trustees has found the site of a proposed gravel pit to be legally eligible for consideration for annexation.Monday night’s determination that the proposal complies with state statutes clears the way for continuing with an annexation process that could last for years and is drawing opposition from residents living near the land in question.Some raised concerns about the proposal both at Monday night’s board meeting and earlier Monday when the matter came before Garfield County commissioners.Nancy Limbach, who runs a wildlife rehabilitation center on County Road 346, worries about the impacts on her center. Traffic on the road, which is located in natural gas drilling country, already is bad, she said.”It’s nonstop trucks anymore,” she said.Gravel pit traffic would create further noise for the center, where rehabilitating bears try to hibernate in the winter and deer and elk in pens have been disturbed by traffic, she said.The gravel pit property is owned by Glenwood Springs attorney Scott Balcomb. Project applicants went before county commissioners Monday because the county wants Silt to annex County Road 346 in the area of the pit as part of any annexation. The county is worried about impacts from a gravel operation on the road and contends that the town should maintain the road because it would benefit from the pit.Under a preannexation agreement reached earlier, the town would receive 10 cents per ton in royalties and 5 cents per ton in street impact fees from the pit’s operations. It also would receive sales taxes from the operation.Project applicants said they have no problem with the road being annexed as well, although they said the county’s request that they also pay for 3 inches of asphalt on the road west to Mamm Creek if they want to use that section would make the project economically unfeasible.Silt community development director Janet Aluise said she understands the county’s position about the road, but it will be up to the town to decide whether to include it in any annexation.A final decision on annexation by the town could be years away. The next step is for the project developers to complete their application, Aluise said.”They have some work to do, and we don’t know when they’re going to submit more documentation,” she said.Aluise recognizes the concerns that surround the project.”There’s probably a good deal of people opposed to the gravel pit. Obviously the adjoining property owners will be impacted,” she said.If annexation occurs, however, the town would have more ability to ensure the operation mitigates impacts as much as possible, in excess of what the state requires, she said. And if it remains in the county, the town won’t have any say over its operation.The sales tax also would help in a town without much of a sales tax base.”We squeak by, but it would certainly be nice to have a little more revenue to take care of the services that we provide,” Aluise said.The developers also propose to turn land over to the town after the gravel has been removed, for use as a town park. Aluise said the town may require reclamation beyond what the state requires.”Our charge as a town is to ensure that we get something that is not a problem for our taxpayers,” she said.Several years ago, Aluise said, the county turned down a gravel pit proposal just outside Silt, largely over concerns about noise. She said the county decision came only after it reconsidered the matter following a lawsuit by the town, which had opposed the pit and said it hadn’t been properly notified of the proposal.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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