Homeowners sue county over approval of Cerise gravel pit
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A group of homeowners has sued the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) over the board’s approval of the Cerise Ranch gravel pit, alleging that the BOCC “exceeded its jurisdiction and/or abused its discretion” with the approval.
Assistant County Attorney Carey Gagnon said on Monday that her office has yet to be served with the suit, and had no comment on the suit.
The suit, which was filed on Aug. 4, asks 9th Judicial District Judge James Boyd to invalidate the BOCC’s approval for the proposed gravel pit, located a few miles northeast of Carbondale, and to deny the Cerise pit mining application.
Formally, the suit is known as a Rule 106 challenge to the BOCC’s action of July 5, approval of a gravel pit on land owned by the Cerise family at the juncture of County Road 103 (Crystal Springs Road) and Highway 82.
The suit has been filed on behalf of Ernest Kollar, Charles Vidal and Chris Coyle, residents of the Wooden Deer subdivision along Crystal Springs Road adjacent to the gravel pit site.
According to the suit documents, the BOCC “failed to follow the requirements of the Garfield County Unified Land Use Resolution,” the legal name of the county’s land use codes approved in 2008.
Specifically, the suit claims the county did not follow its own rules regarding impacts from the gravel pit on the Wooden Deer homes, which are just uphill and, in typical weather, downwind from the gravel pit site.
The suit also claims that the county codes require Lafarge, the gravel pit operator that runs several other mines in the county, provide evidence of how it will meet air pollution regulations.
Lafarge provided no such demonstration, the suit maintains.
The suit also refers to sections within the land use codes that defer to guidelines in the county’s comprehensive plan, such as a provision that a gravel pit application should be denied if it adversely affects the desirability or property values of an adjacent neighborhood.
Residents, testifying before the BOCC, declared that the existence of two other nearby gravel pits, the Powers pit and the Blue pit, already had diminished the value and desirability of their neighborhood.
The Powers pit, visible from Highway 82, is operated by Lafarge and has been in operation for roughly three decades. It is due to close down for reclamation over the coming year.
The Blue Pit, also operating for years, is on land immediately adjacent to the Cerise site. Garfield County recently granted permission for the Blue pit to expand.
The Cerise pit, the Wooden Deer group claimed, would only worsen the impacts that have affected their neighborhood for decades.
The BOCC formally ratified the approval for the Cerise pit on Aug. 15, by voting to authorize BOCC chairman John Martin to sign the paperwork giving the go-ahead to Lafarge.
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