Gravel pit proponents digging in their heels
Proponents of the expansion of a gravel pit near Carbondale were, for nearly three weeks anyway, mounting a two-pronged assault to overturn Garfield County’s partial approval of the gravel pit application last year.First, the proponents are already pursuing a lawsuit, filed late in 2010 against the Garfield County commissioners, seeking to overturn their decision.Second, on March 4, the proponents filed a resubmission of the same application that the county reviewed last year, when the commissioners granted approval to mine only half the acreage of what they requested and imposed a 20-year time limit on the operations.The new application proposed an amendment aimed at restoring the expansion to its full, original dimensions and eliminating the time limit.That application, however, was withdrawn on March 24.On Nov. 8, 2010, the county commissioners gave only partial approval to a plan to expand what is known as the Blue Gravel Pit. The 83-acre operation, first approved in 1981, occupies part of a 284-acre ranch owned by the late Jean Blue and his widow, Dolores “Dee” Blue.The existing pit still has roughly 25 acres of its originally approved area to be mined, an operation that would last at least nine years, depending on demand, according to expansion proponent Bill Roberts, former owner of Western Slope Aggregates.”Dee” Blue, along with Roberts, wanted to expand the pit by approximately 64 acres, which would keep the pit in operation for up to 40 years longer, according to the application.The proposal ran into stiff opposition from nearby residents, who banded together in a group called the Crystal Springs Coalition, and convinced two of the county commissioners that the pit expansion should be limited to roughly half of the acreage desired by the operators, Western Slope Aggregates.The lawsuit, filed in December 2010, accuses the county commissioners of exceeding their authority when they partially approved a proposed gravel pit near Carbondale last year.The Dolores “Dee” Blue Revocable Trust is asking a judge to overturn the county’s decision, grant compensation to the Blue family as punishment for the county’s action, and rule that the county had no authority to make the decision in the first place.Assistant county attorney Cassie Coleman, who is in charge of the BOCC’s defense, has denied the allegations and asked the judge to affirm the county’s authority to make decisions such as the one that sparked the lawsuit.All that’s happened in the case to date is a decision by 9th District Judge Daniel Petre to take himself off the case due to a conflict of interest. The case has been turned over to 9th District Chief Judge James Boyd.Judge Boyd recently granted a delay in the filing of briefs until April 27, at the request of the Blue legal team, the law firm of Balcomb & Green.Tim Thulson, an attorney with the firm, could not be reached on Friday for comment on this story or the withdrawal of the resubmitted application.But a letter in the application resubmission file at the county planning office referred to talks between Western Slope Aggregates and residents of the Wooden Deer subdivision, who made up most of the opposition to the expansion plan.The talks, according to the letter, were aimed at reaching an agreement to allow Western Slope Aggregates to go ahead with the entire expansion plan, and to remove the 20-year time limit imposed by the BOCC.Ernie Kolar, representing the neighbors’ coalition, confirmed that talks had taken place and may continue, but no agreement has been firstname.lastname@example.org
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