Rifle City Council: Master plan before gravel pits
RIFLE – City council members Wednesday night sent out a message loud and clear to Garfield County officials – get a master plan for the Colorado River corridor.The council approved two resolutions asking that a master plan be done before approving any more gravel pits along the river corridor – especially between New Castle and Rifle.Of immediate concern to Rifle is the proposed 64-acre “Scott” pit on the south side of the river near the Rifle exit coming from the east, which is owned by Bill Bailey. Concerns include the impacts of the pit on the city’s watershed and water quality, views, wildlife and the effects on tourism and economic development in the city.”We’ve been in discussion with (Bill Bailey) for months,” said Mayor Keith Lambert. “And we’ve made quite a bit of progress thanks to the efforts of both parties. But we’re still not in the same place.”Council is asking that the Garfield County Commissioners, in cooperation with neighboring municipalities, the Division of Minerals and Geology and other governmental agencies, prepare a study to help in determining long-range planning for the river corridor.”Taken together, the current and prospective gravel operation sites represent an unprecedented growth rate in the local gravel industry occurring largely on the New Castle-Rifle corridor’s mostly highly valued and sensitive landscapes,” the resolutions reads.The second resolution passed by Rifle City Council asked specifically that the special use permit application for the Scott property – filed by United Companies and referred to as the Scott property expansion to the Chambers pit – be denied for the time being.The application is scheduled to be before the county Planning and Zoning Commission next week, which will then make a recommendation to the Garfield County Commission, which ultimately makes the final decision.Lambert said that he understood Bailey’s position from a business standpoint of wanting to move forward, but the city had to defend its concerns as well.”We’re not necessarily trying to hold up this particular gravel pit,” Lambert said. “But we don’t feel comfortable that our watershed is protected. The other aspect is what does it mean as far as land use in Rifle and the visual impacts?”If the Scott pit is approved, the city would also like to see that the property is eventually reclaimed and turned over in the long-term as an amenity to the city for lakes, trails or park land.Garfield County Planning and Zoning will hear the application for the Scott property at its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12.
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