Garfield County commissioners open review of RMR quarry permit
The Garfield County Board of Commissioners is considering whether to begin a public process to review alleged violations of the permit for the limestone quarry north of Glenwood Springs.
The Glenwood Springs Citizens Alliance filed a complaint with the county in November alleging quarry owner Rocky Mountain Resources (RMR) is operating outside its permit and creating unsafe conditions.
According to a memo prepared by county staff, the Citizens Alliance claims RMR is operating outside of its permitted size, is selling materials it isn’t allowed to market, and is failing to provide adequate dust suppression, creating “unsafe conditions” on Traver Trail, the only access to the dirt Transfer Trail that goes by the quarry.
“The board is instructing the staff to investigate [the alleged violations] fully,” Commissioner John Martin said in an interview. That includes reviewing relevant documentation, making site visits to the quarry, speaking with operators, as well as state and federal regulators, Martin said.
County staff will have 90 days to complete the review and return it to the commissioners, who will then decide whether to hold a public hearing about any potential violations of the special use permit, last updated in 2009.
A number of sources show that RMR is out of compliance regarding its operating area. The county’s permit allows operations on 16.3 acres of land. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permit allows operations on 15.7 acres.
A 2016 BLM study found the quarry was operating on 17.5 acres, according to aerial imagery. RMR’s permit from Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety allow an expansive 38 acres, but a January 2018 letter from RMR reveals the mine is operating on 20.8 acres.
The 2009 permit was granted to the quarry’s previous owner, CalX Minerals LLC. RMR purchased the quarry claim and inherited the permit in October 2016. If the board determines that there is a violation and RMR does not come under compliance within a specified period, “the permit may be suspended or revoked,” according to Resolution No. 2009-97.
“We’re asking for that public review as a matter of transparency, and to make sure that RMR is following the policies, requirements and rules that were put in place,” Citizens Alliance founder Jeff Peterson said in an interview.
The Citizens Alliance, a community group formed earlier in 2018 to represent residents and business owners concerned about a potential quarry expansion, has pushed state and federal agencies on RMR’s alleged violations for months.
The Bureau of Land Management, which manages the quarry land, confirmed that RMR was operating outside of the permitted area. But because the quarry was out of compliance under the previous owners, and because the company is currently applying to expand the mine operations, BLM has not enforced the permit area.
The BLM is currently in the process of reviewing a proposal from RMR to modify the quarry. The BLM will release the proposal to the public in late December if it finds the application to be complete. If the BLM requires additional detail, the agency will send it back to RMR without releasing it publicly.