Another LaPorte gravel pit draws community concerns

Another LaPorte gravel pit draws community concerns(Co USA) A proposed sand and gravel mine on the north side of LaPorte has neighbors worried about water pollution, noise, dust and traffic accidents at Overland Trail and Highway 287.About 70 people relayed concerns and asked questions at an Oct. 8 community meeting hosted by Aggregate Industries, the same company that is mining gravel at the Stegner property along North Taft Hill Road.Neighbors of the Stegner site came to the meeting to warn their northern counterparts about the pitfalls of dealing with mining operations at both the county and state levels.”There weren’t supposed to be trucks going south and now there are 125 trucks a day,” said Toni Lueck, who lives on North Taft Hill Road.Another neighbor, Bill Seaworth, warned of noise from 5 a.m. until after 9 at night. “Come over and hear the noise,” he invited, adding that he could not reach anyone in authority to hear his complaints when Aggregate operated late at night.Aggregate Industries and landowner John Donaldson propose to mine 195 acres of a 288-acre site between Overland Trail and the Highway 287 bypass. This property was part of the historic Hawkeye Ranch, but the project does not include the original homestead. To avoid confusion, the proposed mine, originally called Hawkeye Ranch Resource, is now called Timberline Resource.The owner of the historic homestead, David Morrow, said gravel mining will disrupt the lifestyles of area residents for a long time. “Don’t exercise your legal rights, your property rights, but exercise your moral rights to your neighbors,” he pleaded with the developers.According to Danna Ortiz, natural resources planner with Rocky Mountain Consultants in Longmont, mining could begin in three years and then continue for seven to 10 years. After mining, the area will be reclaimed with a large lake, wetlands and an area reserved for future residential development.Most of the mining traffic will leave the area via Overland Trail and Highway 287, an intersection one neighbor called a “prescription for disaster.”Other topics of concern included glaring lights and impact on the Jackson Ditch and groundwater. Neighbors also objected to Aggregate’s request for a setback variance from existing wetlands. The county land use code requires a 100-foot buffer but the company will seek a 50-foot setback because of the large amount of wetlands on site.Unlike the Stegner mine, this one proposes to operate a concrete batch plant and an asphalt batch plant on the property near Overland Trail. Rob Helmick, senior planner for Larimer County, said that combining batch plants with mining operations is common.”It’s not unusual to ask and it’s not unusual to not get them,” he said, noting that the county commissioners turned down a similar request at a Lafarge mine near Windsor.Ortiz said Aggregate is now working with experts in engineering, traffic, hydrogeology, air quality, wetlands, wildlife biology and noise to address the public’s concerns. “We anticipate we will hold another public meeting in December to present the revised mining plan,” she said.All who provided mailing addresses at the first community meeting will be notified. Those who would like their names added to the mailing list or those who have questions about the proposed gravel operation may call Ortiz or Sarah Smith at 303-772-5282 or e-mail dortiz@long.rmcco.com.”If you’re thinking the best choice is no choice, we’re probably not going to agree with you,” Barbara Brunk, a landscape architect with Rocky Mountain Consultants, said at the October meeting.After the next community meeting, Aggregate will submit a formal application to the Larimer County Planning Department. The application will then be reviewed by the LaPorte Area Planning Advisory Committee, the county planning commission and finally by the county commissioners. Technical aspects of the gravel mine also have to be approved by the state.Several people at the Oct. 8 meeting also attended an Oct. 17 meeting to review progress on updating the LaPorte Area Plan. County planner Jill Bennett noted that the LaPorte plan is silent on the topic of gravel mining. State law generally says a county cannot do anything to prevent mining of an economic resource, she noted.”We cannot say there will be no gravel mining in this area,” Bennett said.Helmick noted, however, that state law has no bearing on applications for batch plants.More information about the mining application (including the sketch plan application, minutes from the public meeting and a list of people who attended the meeting) will be available for public review at LaPorte Hardware, Northern Colorado Stained Glass, the Post Office and the West Fort Collins Water District office. The Larimer County Planning Department also has a copy of the sketch plan application.

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