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Help save Carbondale from becoming ‘Garbagedale’

My Side
Mitch Knutson
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mitch Knutson
ALL |

The fast-growing coalition called “Don’t Trash Carbondale” has major concerns about a solid waste transfer station and recycling center being proposed at the Mid-Continent Resources building in Carbondale.

A solid waste transfer station is a hub for garbage collection. It means everyone’s raw garbage, from New Castle to Aspen, would be brought to this site for daily processing. Carbondale would have a mountain of garbage 24/7/365.

Such a facility raises potential health, safety and quality of life concerns to the entire community. This project will adversely affect Carbondale’s image forever.



The owners of this property have told only half the story. They have talked about the benefits of “recycling and being green” but have done everything possible to hide the solid waste transfer station from public view.

They applied to Garfield County for a “use by right” application process, which would have eliminated all public hearings and many crucial impact review studies required by the county land use code. These studies are designed to protect the public’s health and safety and to mitigate potential environment impacts.



At a recent, packed Garfield County commissioners’ meeting, 100 attendees and 225 citizens (through petition) asked the commissioners to deny the use by right and require a major impact review as required by the land use code.

The speakers included representatives from many local groups opposed to this project, including the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Carbondale Public Schools, Carbondale Trustees, several homeowner’s associations and many concerned citizens. Every speaker asked the commissioners to deny the use by right and require the major impact review.

Unfortunately, the commissioners granted the applicants a limited impact review. This is a lower standard than the major impact review, requiring fewer impact studies and only one (instead of two) public hearing.

Given what is at stake, why did the commissioners minimize these requirements? It makes no sense.

We have many concerns about locating a solid waste transfer station in our beautiful valley, including the following:

Health: There is potential air, water, ground and noise pollution that could be created by these facilities. Potential hazardous materials, known in the industry as “unwantables,” could be dropped off or collected, including car batteries, electronic components, solvents, lead paints, pesticides, and old tires, to name a few. What if these substances leach from the site into our groundwater?

Safety: Heavy industrial truck traffic would increase significantly. Heavy garbage trucks and semi-trailers would travel on Catherine Store Road and Snowmass Drive, which cannot sustain this kind of traffic. The truck route runs directly in front of Crystal River Elementary School, the Rio Grande Bike Path and rodeo grounds. Do we want our children and trail users put in harm’s way?

These types of facilities are also extremely prone to fires. Do we need another fire in the valley? Who would regulate this facility to make sure it remains in compliance with all federal, state and local laws?

Quality of life: Carbondale has been listed as one of the 50 Best Places to Live. How will a major trash hub just outside town affect its image and reputation? This site will be a real eyesore and generate foul odors.

Is this how we want to welcome people to Carbondale? Is a major trash facility compatible with the bike path, rodeo and growing residential neighborhoods along Catherine Store Road?

What will this site look like in 10, 20 or 50 years? How big could it get? How much more noise, traffic, odor and environmental damage could be created?

We would ask that the applicant come out of the shadows and work with the town of Carbondale towards an equitable solution that would mitigate our concerns. Failing to do so will create hard feelings, opposition and an uphill battle.

As proposed, a massive solid waste transfer station and recycling center will adversely affect the health, safety and quality of life of our citizens and the entire valley for decades to come. We ask everyone to speak out against this proposal. To learn more, go to http://www.donttrashcarbondale.com. Thank you.

Mitch Knutson of Franktown is a co-founder of the Don’t Trash Carbondale Coalition. He works in health care and owns property at the Roaring Fork Preserve, where he plans to build a home.


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