County landfill dealing in dirt
Anyone who wants to dump a whole lot of dirt at the Pitkin County Landfill better be prepared to buy a bunch of it back.That arrangement may become the norm as the facility responds to a seemingly unending influx of dirt. Fewer, but much bigger holes are being excavated around Aspen, and dirt and rock is the largest single component of the waste material coming into the landfill. The landfill typically takes in about 100,000 cubic yards of fill annually, though it anticipates about 80,000 this year. A big, new hotel project getting under way at the base of Aspen Mountain, however, is expected to produce an estimated 60,000 cubic yards of dirt – more than half of the landfill’s usual yearly take.Chris Hoofnagle, landfill site manager, has struck a deal with the hotel’s developers. The landfill will take the material, but the developers of The Residences at Little Nell have to buy 12,000 tons – roughly 40,000 cubic yards – of processed material back.The landfill’s “aggregate recovery program” sifts the dirt into various products, including gravel, mixed rock and topsoil, that can be sold for use in construction.With several other large construction projects looming in Aspen, Hoofnagle is bracing for even more dirt. Most of it has to be recycled and resold or it will quickly consume the remaining space in the landfill, he said.”Our challenge is to get the material back out the door,” he said.That’s where the buyback requirement comes in. In addition, the landfill will be studying all of its rates during the coming year, Hoofnagle told the Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday. An increase in the fee to dump dirt needs to be analyzed as part of that broader rate study, he said. The landfill currently charges $8 per cubic yard to dump excavation material – that’s $80 for a dump truck load.Commissioner Mick Ireland suggested the county also consider implementing a dirt impact fee within its land-use code. The county fee wouldn’t apply in the city of Aspen, but excavation in the county produces dirt, too, he noted.”We’re seeing people build enormous basements,” Ireland said. “One of our goals is to not fill up that landfill with basement dirt.”The dirt fee could generate revenue that could help the landfill improve its ability to process the material for resale.Commissioner Jack Hatfield urged Hoofnagle to accept large amounts of fill only when it makes sense.”I feel no obligation to the development community – only if it works for us,” he said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Just in time for Halloween, the Pitkin County Board of Health voted 4-2 to reduce the size of informal gatherings from 10 to five for at least the next two weeks starting Friday. According to the public health director, officials are currently investigating 11 outbreaks in Pitkin County.