Neighbors oppose 2 gravel pit proposals near Carbondale | AspenTimes.com

Neighbors oppose 2 gravel pit proposals near Carbondale

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – A clash appears likely between residents of the Wooden Deer subdivision off the Crystal Springs Road east of Carbondale, and the proponents of two planned gravel pits in the neighborhood.

And the neighbors are hoping they will not be alone.

A group calling itself the Wooden Deer Coalition has come out in opposition to a proposed new LaFarge gravel pit on land owned by the Cerise family, and to a proposed expansion of the nearby Western Slope Aggregate gravel pit on land owned by the Blue family.

“I think it’s fair to say that we’re not pleased with it,” said Chris Coyle, a former president of the coalition.

“Carbondale runs the risk of becoming the gravel-pit center of the valley,” said Jon Fitch, also a coalition member.

“We’d just like the community to be aware,” added Sue Coyle.

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The two gravel pit proposals will be reviewed by Garfield County officials in the coming months, starting with a Planning and Zoning Commissioner hearing concerning the Western Slope Aggregate proposal on Aug. 11 in Glenwood Springs.

And according to a planner with the county’s Building and Planning Department, the two applications will be reviewed entirely independently of each other, unless the applicants choose to request joint consideration.

The existing Blue pit, according to the planner, has about 10 years left as a viable pit, and the operators, Western Slope Aggregate, want approval for an additional 64 acres. The overall project would be stretched over four phases that reportedly could last up to 50 years or so.

The Cerise Pit, as it is known, would be located just to the west of the existing Blue Pit, along Crystal Springs Road (Garfield County Road 103).

The 93-acre site of the pit would be screened by berms along Crystal Springs Road and along the hillside overlooking Highway 82, according to a presentation by LaFarge land manager Sean Frisch at a meeting July 22 in Carbondale’s Town Hall.

Access to the new pit would be from CR 103, although neighbors suggested a Highway 82 access road would be more to their liking.

“It wasn’t logical to cut a new road,” Frisch said, explaining that putting in a new road would be complicated by the hillside above the highway, actually a steep 70-foot berm, and an existing large gas line.

Neighbors said they also were concerned about visual impacts to the homes above the proposed pit, which includes the Wooden Deer neighborhood, and the traffic impacts to both their subdivision and the neighborhoods further up CR 103.

According to Frisch and his team of planners, the new pit should pose no danger to the Crystal Springs waterway.

Frisch said the Cerise pit is being designed to crank out roughly 7 million tons of gravel over a four-phase schedule that he estimated would last for around 15 years.

Neighbors, however, questioned his match and suggested the pit would be there for closer to 30 years at current levels of demand.

Frisch admitted that, at the nearby LaFarge pit on the Powers family property, which has been there for more than three decades and is due to be shut down within a couple of years, production this year is about half what it was in 2007.

That lessened demand, he conceded at the meeting, could lead to a longer lifespan for the pit, although the company’s lease is for 15 years and would have to renegotiated to extend the life of the pit.

He said the formal application for the new Cerise pit is scheduled for submission to Garfield County in August.

The application for the Blue pit was submitted in February.

jcolson@postindependent.com