Commissioners stand by gravel pit decision
November 14, 2006
Pitkin County commissioners claim they followed due process and acted according to county code in approving Elam Construction’s request to expand its gravel pit operation in Woody Creek.William and Gail Braun own a home adjacent to the gravel pit site. On Monday, William Braun filed a lawsuit against the Board of County Commissioners claiming the gravel pit activity will be within 100 feet of the creek – violating a code that stipulates such activity be more than 200 feet from the creek. Braun also contends the work site is within 400 feet of his property, not 1,000 feet, as the code prescribes. In addition, the suit cites the nuisance of noise and dust that will blow onto the Braun home and property.County Attorney John Ely had not received notice of the suit Tuesday, but said the county would respond when contacted.”We did what we believe is right,” said Commissioner Dorothea Farris. “The’ve met our code standards,” she said of Elam Construction. Farris said if anyone finds that the board did not respond to the code, it will make amends.”And the pit is no bigger than it was,” Farris added. According to Farris, Elam plans to mine a different part of the existing pit, one that’s closer to Woody Creek. But it is within the Elam’s right to do so, and the company went through due process to receive approval.During the approval process, Elam went “above and beyond” requirements, Farris said. The company put together an interactive program that they took to the Woody Creek Caucus and county commissioners. The program used computer-enhanced photographs of what excavation would look like from various points in the surrounding area. Elam representatives offered two options for excavation, and commissioners were invited for a site visit and heard public comment – including dissent from the Brauns – before granting approval.Commissioner Mick Ireland said he understands that no one wants a gravel pit in the backyard, but stood by the board’s decision. Like Farris, he challenged detractors to prove the commissioners acted outside code and procedure, and if they did, they would revisit the issue.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Aspen Times, Aspen Colo.