Woody Creekers: Gravel mine is the pits | AspenTimes.com

Woody Creekers: Gravel mine is the pits

Joel Stonington

Woody Creekers are taking positions of caution and dissatisfaction with a proposal to expand a gravel mine in Woody Creek.Elam Construction’s gravel pit, less than a mile from the Woody Creek Tavern, covers more than 47 acres. Elam expects current permits will allow mining to continue unabated for the next four years, without diminishing quality or quantity. However, the mining operation is requesting a permit to extend 16 years beyond that. “They’re an industrial mining operation, noise is tremendous,” Woody Creek resident Ann Owsley told Pitkin County commissioners during a meeting Wednesday.Owsley, the wife of Commissioner Michael Owsley, noted that the mine owners have been responsive to neighborhood complaints, but said, “Help us save some peace and quiet in Woody Creek.”Ben Miller of Lewicki and Associates gave a presentation to Pitkin County about the effects of the mine and acknowledged the impacts – including visual, dust and noise. In order to mitigate some of those impacts, he said, the mine will make topsoil berms to help with noise and viewplanes, upgrade backup alarms to eliminate beeping, and keep the crusher (the loudest machinery) in the deepest part of the mine.”We want to provide gravel for the next 20 years,” Miller said. He said mining other gravel pits would increase emissions significantly for Aspen. “The county does have a gravel demand, and that’s what we’re hoping to provide.”Though some residents at the meeting objected entirely to the permit for the pit, the bigger issue is whether the company will mine from east to west or west to east.The Woody Creek Caucus unanimously recommended the mining operation proceed from west to east so it stays out of view as long as possible. Elam Construction, however, planned to do it the other way in order to mitigate view impacts from Highway 82. Pitkin County commissioners decided they did not have enough information at Wednesday’s meeting and asked Elam Construction to return Sept. 13 to address problems ranging from revegetation to views to hours of operation. “You saw a literal consumption of the Earth, and that’s something that’s hard to deal with,” Michael Owsley said of Elam’s side show showing the impacts during the next 20 years. “People’s concerns are very real.”Commissioner Dorothea Farris noted complaints from homeowners in Chaparral, a new subdivision in the Woody Creek area.”The bigger the house, the more gravel we need,” she said. “That’s gravel, that’s dust, that’s water impacts.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com

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