Scaled-back gravel pit operation OK’d |

Scaled-back gravel pit operation OK’d

A once-controversial new gravel pit along Highway 82 outside Carbondale has been reduced to half the size with far less traffic and fewer impacts, according to an amended mining plan approved by Garfield County commissioners Monday.

Commissioners originally approved the gravel pit in July 2011 to encompass more than 60 acres of the Cerise ranch property, involving more than 400 large truck trips per day accessing Highway 82 via County Road 103 with a concrete batch plant on site.

At the time, the gravel mine was to be operated by Lafarge West, a Denver subsidiary of the French company.

The plan was met with heavy opposition from neighbors in the nearby Wooden Deer subdivision, who ultimately sued to try to halt the operation.

New operators United Companies now intend to mine gravel on a little over 31 acres of the larger site, and to significantly reduce the size and scope of the mine, according to company representative Ben Langenfeld, who presented the new plans to commissioners on Monday.

For now, the concrete plant that the gravel pit will supply will continue to operate at the nearby site of the former Powers pit that was operated for many years by Lafarge. That pit has now been reclaimed, but the concrete plant continues to operate there under a continuing land lease, Langenfeld explained.

It would be moved to the Cerise pit site in the future only as a contingency, he said.

In the meantime, instead of 45 employees between the gravel pit and batch plant operation under the former plan, there will be a maximum of only eight full-time employees during the height of the construction season, according to the new plan.

Truck traffic in and out of the mine area will also be reduced from as many as 415 trips per day under the previous plan to 272 with just the gravel mine. That could increase to 310 in the future, should the concrete plant be relocated to the site.

At that time, the operators would also be required to build an office facility and restrooms with full water and wastewater service. Until then, given the small number of employees, portable toilets will be utilized on site.

Langenfeld said the size of the gravel stockpiles will also be greatly reduced, resulting in less visual impact for nearby residents.

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