Garfield County commissioners to hear Bedrock Resources contractor’s yard plan
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County commissioners are set to hear a controversial new plan today to turn a piece of property located next to the Eagle Springs Organic farm southeast of Rifle into a contractor’s yard for an asphalt manufacturing and paving company.
The first regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting for September takes place starting at 8 a.m. today, rather than Monday, due to the Labor Day holiday.
A public hearing is scheduled as part of the afternoon session to consider Bedrock Resources LLC’s land-use change permit application for a contractor’s yard, to be located on a 35-acre site just east of the Garfield County Regional Airport along Mamm Creek Road.
In February of this year, Bedrock, represented by owner/manager Charles Ellsworth, was denied permission by county commissioners to relocate an existing asphalt plant from Bedrock’s current location south of Silt to the new site, which it had just recently purchased.
The denial came after concerns were raised about plant emissions and dust having a possible negative impact on the neighboring Eagle Springs Organic farm, located just east of the site.
Farm owner Ken Sack, along with several farm workers and local food supporters, successfully argued before the commissioners that the organic certification the farm receives from the USDA for its produce and livestock could be impacted.
Bedrock returned in the spring with a new plan to put a contractor’s yard on the property, including storage for machinery and office space. The request included a variety of “accessory uses,” such as storage, processing and crushing of recycled asphalt material.
Sack and his supporters have maintained that the new proposed use could also have a negative impact on the farming operation.
Any industrial use, including a contractor’s yard, could harm the farm operation and is not appropriate for the area’s agricultural rural zone district designation, Sack has argued.
The Garfield County Planning Commission took up the Bedrock proposal at a July 11 hearing, and recommended approval. But the recommendation came with a long list of conditions to limit the operation’s impacts on neighboring land uses, such as dust and noise control.
Other organic food growers and consumers from the area support Eagle Springs’ argument.
“As an advisory circle member of the Roaring Fork Food Policy Council, and as a farmer in Silt for several decades, I speak to the increasing necessity of local farmers to collaborate in order to keep our business viable,” Ken and Gail Kuhns of the Peach Valley CSA wrote in one of the dozens of letters sent to the county commissioners commenting on the proposal.
“Farmers of any size do best when not faced with additional issues [air, water quality] from industrial outside sources that are detrimental to their operations,” they wrote.
Numerous other letters and emails were written to the commissioners in support of Bedrock’s plans.
“Recycling of broken asphalt as well as manufacturing of new asphalt is an important asset to Garfield County,” Rifle businessman Terry Kirk wrote. “All it amounts to is crushing and repurposing asphalt that would go to waste in the landfill, thus taking up valuable space as a non-recyclable material.”
Also during today’s meeting, county commissioners will discuss whether to rescind their resolution regarding oil shale leasing on federal lands in western Colorado and parts of Utah and Wyoming.
The commissioners have come under criticism for the April 9 resolution, which supported leasing of substantially more acreage than proposed by federal land managers in a draft decision issued earlier this year.
The county resolution was drafted in a closed-door meeting in Vernal, Utah, on March 27 that was attended by oil shale industry representatives and elected officials from other counties in the three-state area. Two citizens groups filed suit against the county commissioners Aug. 27, saying the meeting was illegal and that the resolution should be rescinded.
Commissioners in Uintah County, Utah, also rescinded a similar resolution after admitting that the March meeting was not properly posted. They then reconsidered it at a noticed public meeting and readopted the same resolution.
Garfield County commissioners could do the same.
Also on today’s agenda:
• Consideration of a resolution opposing Amendment 64 on the Nov. 6 Colorado ballot, which would legalize and regulate marijuana the same as alcohol in the state. Other county commissioners, including Mesa County, have come out against the measure.
• Consideration of a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to coordinate efforts in preparing the Northwest Colorado Sage Grouse Environmental Impact Statement.
• Review of the next round of county land-use code revisions, as recommended by the commissioners’ specially appointed code advisory committee.
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