Judge stays RMR’s federal lawsuit against Garfield County | PostIndependent.com

Judge stays RMR’s federal lawsuit against Garfield County

The Rocky Mountain Resources limestone quarry at the base of Transfer Trail north of Glenwood Springs.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A judge has officially stayed proceedings in RMR Industrials’ federal lawsuit against Garfield County over the alleged permit violations.

RMR, which owns the limestone quarry north of Glenwood Springs, sued the county commissioners in May after the board notified RMR that it was out of compliance with the county permit.

RMR sued first in Colorado court, then in the federal district court of Colorado four days later over essentially the same matter.

That started a jurisdictional fight that has now come to an end.

Garfield County wanted the state case to be heard by a Glenwood Springs judge, but RMR said it wanted the federal case to go forward, and only filed the state case as a backup if the other court didn’t provide the relief they sought.

But Garfield County’s position won out.

The federal case “will be stayed and will be administratively closed, subject to reopening if appropriate,” U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote in an order filed Nov. 29.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher recommended the federal case be stayed in a September filing.

The timeline for the case in Colorado court is uncertain.

Ninth District Judge Anne Norrdin issued a temporary stay in the state case Sept. 4 while she considered granting RMR’s request to stay the case.

Garfield County asserted that the state had ample authority to resolve RMR’s complaint.

Norrdin asked for more information from RMR and the county, and said she would “resolve the request for stay as expeditiously as possible thereafter.”

Attorneys for the county and RMR did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the lawsuits, RMR claimed the county acted “in an arbitrary and capricious manner” in issuing the violation notice in May.

RMR said the commissioners didn’t have the evidence to issue the notice, and doesn’t have the authority to enforce the permit on federal land within the county.

The county’s notice of violation said RMR:

  1. sold limestone for road base, boulders and other construction materials when their permit specifically authorizes extraction of only chemical-grade limestone dust.
  2. operated between Dec. 15 and April 15 since RMR took ownership.
  3. is operating on 20.8 acres of BLM land, when the county permit and BLM permit authorize only 16.3 acres.
  4. failed to keep traffic noise low on the Transfer Trail.
  5. conducted exploratory drilling, with BLM permission but without permission from the county.

The county gave RMR until June 1 to come into compliance. Shortly before the deadline to come under compliance, RMR filed two lawsuits, one in Colorado court on May 17, and another in the Colorado district of federal court May 21.

tphippen@postindependent.com


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