Waste transfer station decision on hold for two months
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County commissioners, following a seven-hour-long meeting Monday, continued until mid-November a public hearing to consider a highly controversial proposal for a solid waste transfer and recycling processing facility near Carbondale.
In the meantime, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) will be asked to do a technical review of the facility, which is being proposed by local waste hauler Mountain Rolloffs Inc. (MRI).
The transfer facility would be located at the former Mid-Continent Resources coal loadout on County Road 100 (Catherine Store Road) two miles east of Carbondale.
The 35-acre site is owned by a group of local investors known as IRMW II LLC. It has continued to be used for a range of light industrial purposes since the coal mines closed in the early 1990s.
MRI representatives agreed to the health department review at Monday’s hearing.
They will also use the extra time to evaluate whether a haul route taking truck traffic directly to Highway 82 via the county road, rather than through the town of Carbondale as initially proposed, would be feasible.
Doing so would likely require that MRI partner with the county to pay for the replacement of the Catherine Store Bridge over the Roaring Fork River with a new bridge that could better accommodate semi trucks.
Both the Carbondale Board of Trustees and the Roaring Fork school board have expressed concerns over the haul route proposed in MRI’s application using Snowmass Drive and Highway 133 through town. Snowmass Drive passes by an elementary and middle school.
MRI general manager Don Van Devander explained that the transfer facility would take solid waste from trash collection trucks. After it is sorted of items that cannot be put in landfills, such as batteries and tires, the trash will be loaded onto larger semi trucks to be taken to area landfills.
Between three and five semi truck trips per day to and from the facility are anticipated to start, and up to 10 as the operation grows.
Trash will not be kept on the site for more than 24 hours, Van Devander said.
“This is not a landfill or dump, and it can’t be turned into one,” he said.
Recyclable material and construction waste, including concrete, wood and steel, will also be collected and sorted on site, then bundled and hauled away.
“More than 50 percent of construction waste can be removed from the waste stream,” Van Devander said. “We anticipate being able to divert 500 tons of construction debris from local landfills every year.”
The commissioners’ decision to continue the hearing came after more than four hours of public comments from about a third of the more than 150 people who packed the commissioners’ hearing room and spilling into the hallway.
Neighbors in the area, as well as many Carbondale residents, have vigorously opposed the plans. They cite concerns ranging from increased heavy truck traffic and conflicts with the Rio Grande Trail that runs next to the site, to pollution and impacts on Carbondale’s tourism base.
“If you approve this you will risk the culture in Carbondale that people have worked hard for many years to create,” said area resident Ron Speaker.
Added another local resident, Ron Lloyd, “You don’t put a garbage processing plant next to a town that is focused on major recreation for its economic base.
“We’re not a coal mining town anymore,” Lloyd said in reference to the industrially zoned site’s historic use as a railroad loadout for area coal mines. “This is the wrong place and the wrong use at the wrong time.”
Others, including several MRI employees and investors, supported the waste transfer facility plan and said it’s the community’s responsibility to deal with its own trash.
“You have to have the infrastructure to do all those things, like making art and serving food in restaurants,” said MRI employee and longtime Carbondale resident Harold Leonard. “Trash is ugly, but it’s there, and we have to deal with it.”
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Colorado Parks and Wildlife is urging anglers to stay off the Roaring Fork River between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs during afternoons beginning Saturday.