Garco OKs gravel pit near Silt |

Garco OKs gravel pit near Silt

Donna Gray
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” In a landmark decision, the Garfield County commissioners approved a special-use permit for a large gravel pit southwest of Silt Monday.

The approval came with a host of strings attached, however, chiefly surrounding the timing and extent of reclamation, traffic management, hours of operation and spot inspections.

The decision comes after local mayors pressed the county for wide-ranging regulations to cover a proliferation of gravel permit applications for new pits along the Colorado River. Demand for gravel has grown, especially for the oil and gas industry, and housing construction.

“I think a lot of eyes will be on you,” said Commissioner Tresi Houpt to pit operator Bill Roberts at the conclusion of the four-hour meeting Monday in Glenwood Springs. “I think we’ve found a compatible way to do this.”

The plan calls for mining 110 acres south of the Colorado River and Interstate 70 on land owned by a consortium of Glenwood Springs attorneys and contractors, including water lawyer Scott Balcomb and contractors Dick Stephenson and Gregg Rippy. Roberts, who will operate the Silt Sand and Gravel pit, also owns Earthworks Construction and Western Slope Aggregates and operates a gravel pit in Carbondale.

One aspect of the project that appealed to the commissioners was the owners’ and Roberts’ pledge to donate the property to the Colorado Division of Wildlife when the pits are mined out, in about 11 years. They also consulted with the DOW on reclamation, which will result in five lakes landscaped and contoured to DOW’s specifications.

Still, concerns with effects of the operation on neighbors and county roads were negotiated up to the final vote. With a traffic survey that estimated 200 truck trips a day, Roberts agreed to build a deceleration lane leading into the pit. He also agreed to have trucks make only left, or eastbound, turns onto County Road 346 coming out of the pit to avoid traffic west of the site at the busy Mamm Creek Road interchange, which gets a lot of oil and gas industry traffic.

Not everyone was pleased with the approval. Silt Mayor Dave Moore said the town preferred to have the pit within its borders. The project was originally brought before the town board, but negotiations broke down and Roberts and the owners decided to apply to the county.

Moore called on the commission to enforce the regulations governing the project.

“Commissioner John (Martin), we of the town of Silt look to you for enforcement of all state and local codes,” he said. “We were hoping you’d send (the application) back to the town so we’d have more control.”

Also concerned about the project were brothers Don and Doug Grant, who operate a gravel pit to the west. They were concerned about what effect removal of water from the low-lying pits would have on their operations.

“We’re staunchly opposed to excess water going in the drainage ditch,” that runs across Silt Sand and Gravel and their property. They said they wanted all the excess water to go directly into the Colorado River.

Owner Scott Balcomb said at Monday’s meeting he intended to use some of that water to irrigate part of his property north of the river. However, he ultimately agreed to a condition of approval that he would be able to use no more than 1.5 cubic feet per second of water during the irrigating season.

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