Garfield County commissioners deny extended gravel pit hours for Pitkin County airport, highway projects
A decision by Garfield County commissioners Monday to deny a request for extended operating hours at a Carbondale-area gravel pit that has run into issues with its neighbors in recent years could impact two large construction projects in Pitkin County, including one that’s already started.
Representatives for CRH Americas Materials, operators of the Sievers Gravel Pit on County Road 109 near the Aspen Glen and Teller Springs residential subdivisions, were before the county commissioners seeking extended hours to be able to supply the projects.
One of them involves maintenance and repairs to the runway and taxiways at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. That project began Monday, prompting a two-week closure of the airport for all but emergency operations.
In order to keep up with the airport construction timeline, the gravel pit would need to temporarily extend its hours from the allowed time frame of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week, to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for 14 straight days through May 15, company representative Jason Burkey said.
Currently, the pit operates from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to a sign at the entrance.
County planners initially weren’t sure how to handle the request, short of a lengthy “substantial modification” process that would take several months. After the request was received by the county on April 7, it took a while for the matter to come before commissioners as a temporary waiver request due to noticing requirements.
In addition to the more immediate request, CRH intends to use the Sievers Pit asphalt operation in its pending bid to the Colorado Department of Transportation to supply a major Colorado Highway 82 repaving project starting later this month.
That project also happens to involve a section of Highway 82 near the Aspen airport.
Because CDOT plans to do much of that work at night, CRH had a separate request before the commissioners Monday to operate the pit overnight, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., on six separate occasions, May through October. It would also add Sunday operations during that period of time.
But, faced with neighbor concerns about the pit that have been brewing for several months, and the contention by one county commissioner that other options exist, the commissioners voted to deny the requests.
“Why not use the Cerise-Powers pit?,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky asked, referencing another CRH operation that’s situated directly on Highway 82 east of Carbondale. “It’s closer, and it doesn’t have neighbors all around it like at Sievers.”
The Sievers proposal also called for running the additional trucks through Carbondale and back to Highway 82, which Jankovsky questioned.
Neighbors of the Sievers operation, in both Aspen Glen to the south and Teller Springs to the north of the gravel pit, reiterated several standing complaints related to dust, noise, odors, light pollution and what they said is often unsafe driving by haul truck operators.
“The nature of that neighborhood has changed, with all the homes that surround it now,” said one resident, Terry Claassen, adding that the relatively new asphalt recycling operation that’s on the site is inappropriate in a residential area.
Burkey said the pit operators have been working to address many of the neighbor concerns and would do so in regards to the expanded operating hours.
Commissioner Mike Samson said it seems those issues should have been dealt with before coming to the county seeking extended hours.
“I get the impression that things could be improved a lot out there,” Samson said, joining Jankovsky in voting 2-1 to deny the request.
Commission Chairman John Martin was in favor of the request for extending the operating hours temporarily, noting the time-sensitive nature of the two projects.
He did, however, make note of the dust concerns involving the Sievers pit and suggested the county locate its mobile air-quality monitoring station near Cattle Creek to get some particulate readings for that area as a baseline for any future pit expansion requests.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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