Landfill advocates have got the blues |

Landfill advocates have got the blues

The Garfield County commissioners on Monday echoed the sentiments of citizens gathered to oppose a change in zoning regulations that would allow landfills in a largely residential zone.

They turned down an application to amend the Agricultural Rural Residential District, which covers the majority of the county, to allow landfills as a special use.

Applying for the amendment were Jean and Dee Blue, who lease a portion of their land to Western Slope Aggregates for a gravel pit mining operation and cement batch plant on 73 acres on County Road 104 east of Carbondale.

Western Slope owner Bill Roberts came up with the idea of filling the gravel pit up with construction waste. He’s operated the pit for 13 years.

The county planning commission as well as the planning staff recommended denial of the application in February because the Blues did not provide enough information about the project to determine whether it would be an appropriate use in that area. The planning staff also suggested the county comprehensive land use plan be modified to consider landfills, but only after public meetings were conducted.

“Mining is allowed in this district, but there’s no provision to fill the holes back up,” said the Blues’ attorney, Glenn Harsh. “Landfills should be an integral component of mine reclamation.”

He also said landfills are not any more noisy, dusty, odorous or impactive than other allowed uses in the ARRD zone, including mining, airports, and dog kennels.

Citizens who spoke out against the proposal said that the zone district covers about 70 percent of the county and should not be opened up to such a use.

If the amendment were approved, said Glenwood Springs attorney Scott Balcomb, speaking for residents of the nearby Wooden Deer subdivision, people who chose to live in the rural areas of the county “would be threatened with a landfill next door.”

He also suggested that if there is a need for more landfills – “and that hasn’t been proven here,” he said – the county should look at creating a zone specifically for landfills in appropriate areas.

Tresi Houpt, executive director of Valley Resource Management, a coalition of local governments formed to solve problems of solid waste disposal, urged the commissioners to reject the request for much the same reasons.

“They (landfills) are environmentally sensitive and visually offensive. Would you want one next door, Mr. Harsh?” she asked.

Wooden Deer resident Chuck Vidal suggested the Blues ask for rezoning of their land to allow a landfill, and further, that the county re-examine the ARRD zone.

“Maybe it’s too large, and there are too many mixed uses,” he said.

After hearing the public comments, the commissioners promptly moved to deny the application.

“Allowing this use to occur in the ARRD with the vastness of this district, to me, is not in the interest, health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Garfield County,” said Commissioner Larry McCown, who made the motion to deny. The motion passed unanimously.

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