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Garfield County denies use by right for trash facilities

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Garfield County commissioners on Monday rejected a request to grant “use-by-right” status to waste-handling facilities in the county’s two industrial zone districts.

The decisions means that Mountain Roll-offs Inc., a Silt-based company, must go through a public hearing process when and if it applies to build a combined recycling and solid waste transfer station just east of Carbondale.

The facility would use the 40,000-square-foot metal building on County Road 100 (Catherine Store Road) that once was the coal-loading facility for Mid-Continent Resources Inc. Trucks brought loads of coal from the mines at Redstone and the coal was transferred to rail cars for export until the mines closed in 1991.

The building, which is 540 feet long and 80 feet wide, would be converted to handle construction waste, as well as residential and commercial trash. It would sort and divert most of the waste for recycling.

The property owner, IRMW LLC, asked Garfield County to amend the county’s zoning code and classify recycling centers and transfer centers as a use by right in lands zoned for industrial uses, which includes only two parts of the county – the 95-acre Mid-Continent site as well as a roughly 40-acre site known as the Rifle Business Park.

As a use by right, the project application would have been reviewed by the director of the county planning department, Fred Jarman. This process would not require public hearings before the Board of County Commissioners or the Planning and Zoning Commission, or approvals by those boards.

Attorney Tim Thulson, representing IRMW LLC, noted that Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot had written a letter endorsing the zoning code amendment.

But Carbondale Trustee John Hoffmann, among others, pointed out that the Carbondale town government sent a subsequent letter withdrawing its support for the amendment once the town trustees learned more about the matter.

Residents living on the other side of County Road 100 showed up in strength on Monday to tell the county commissioners that they wanted the zoning code left as it was, with at least one public hearing required.

One of the 75 or so people in attendance, Kate Morrow, said she’d been told the applicant wanted the code amended because the review process would be easier and cheaper.

“Just because it’s simpler for the applicant doesn’t mean it’s in the public interest,” she told the commissioners.

Perhaps 20 people spoke against the idea over the course of nearly two hours, while only Thulson spoke in its favor.

The general tenor of the meeting was summed up by a brief remark from Tim Schwener of Glenwood Springs.

He strode up to the podium, faced the commissioners and said, “Make ’em jump through the hoops. That’s all I’ve got to say,” and left the room to resounding applause.

Commissioner John Martin and planner Glenn Hartman both noted more than once that there had been no formal application for the recycle/transfer station submitted to the county as of Monday.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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