Not a happy reception for WSA gravel pit plans
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Representatives of the Western Slope Aggregates gravel pit were determined to keep things amicable at an open house held in Carbondale Town Hall on Thursday.
But they were not always able to maintain that mood.
“Pah! It’s a joke,” grumped Mike Hammes, who lives on the ridge above the Wooden Deer subdivision, which is just to the north of the gravel pit.
Wooden Deer homeowners have been fighting the proposed expansion of the WSA gravel pit for at least two years.
The pit’s management has applied to Garfield County for permits to expand the pit by a total of 64 acres, beyond the 83-acre area now being mined. The property, owned by Delores “Dee” Blue, is located along Highway 82, across from the Ranch at Roaring Fork.
The expansion area, according to illustrations tacked up on the walls of the conference room at Town Hall, would gradually move west and north toward Crystal Springs Road (Garfield County Road 103) and the Wooden Deer boundary.
Hammes had been arguing with Western Slope Aggregates general manager Sean Mello that there currently is not enough demand to justify expanding the pit.
“Please tell me when it’s needed,” Hammes said to Mello.
“I don’t know,” Mello admitted.
“Okay, that’s an honest answer,” rejoined Hammes, before he stalked briefly out of the room.
When Hammes returned, Mello said the WSA operation currently is churning out between 200,000 and 300,000 tons of gravel per year, and expects to hit 400,000 soon.
When Hammes asked what that expectation is based on, Mello responded, “Because everybody says things are coming back.”
The expansion would stop well short of the property’s shared boundary with Wooden Deer. It would go to the boundary of a conservation easement on the Blue property that separates the homes from the gravel pit site, said Travis Stewart, part owner of WSA.
Along that easement boundary, Stewart said, the company hopes to realign a ranch road that currently runs right through the expansion area for the pit.
The realigned road would run next to a line of newly planted trees, meant to screen the pit from the homes. The trees, along with a berm paralleling the road, would follow the easement boundary westward.
The road would then turn to run south along the line between the Blue property and its neighbor, Cerise Ranch, where another gravel pit is planned by the Lafarge company.
Aside from WSA representatives, no one at the open house seemed happy with the proposal to expand the WSA pit.
“We hate it,” declared Katherine Hubbard, another Wooden Deer resident. “It’s the same as the old one, basically, with the addition of a few trees.”
Others objected based on noise that will be generated by rock crushers, trucks and other equipment.
Mello said the pit floor, now at 80 feet deep, will be at least that deep throughout the life of the operations, and the sloping pit walls will direct most of the noise up and away from nearby homes.
He said the expansion is to happen in phases over the next 40 years or so. “We’re going to open up five or six acres per year,” he said.
The expansion plan is to go before the Garfield County Planning Commission on Sept. 12.
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