Judge rules for Martin Marietta asphalt plant in Colorado

A district court judge on Friday sided with commissioners in their approval of Martin Marietta Materials asphalt and concrete plant about a mile northeast of Johnstown, CO, reports the Tribune.

The judge’s decision, at least for now, brings to an end a nearly two-year fight that grew louder after commissioners thwarted their county’s planning department and planning commission in approving the Martin Marietta Materials plan in August 2015.

Nearby residents filed suit that September, citing violations of county code and what they characterized as an arbitrary decision on the part of the commissioners, among other allegations.

Weld commissioners are pleased with Judge Taylor’s ruling. “We’re very happy with the decision of the court,” Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said. “The judge was adamant that we followed the rules, and our policies. That makes me feel good.”

The judge’s decision comes after commissioners were required to revisit their initial decision, as Taylor in August 2016 ordered commissioners to better explain their decision to approve the plant. Taking the new explanation into account, the judge affirmed the commissioners’ initial ruling granting special use to the plant.

Although development began in the fall of 2015, Martin Marietta, at least for now, has nothing more standing in the way of its 131-acre, $20 million asphalt and concrete planty. The site has an asphalt plant, batch concrete plant and a ready-mix concrete plant and transloading taht will include a rail loop to accommodate 117 train cars and four locomotives.

The judge said the court’s job is not that of a zoning appeals board. The case hinged on whether weld county commissioners provided proper evidence for their decision. On most points, the judge agreed they had.

Taylor sided with the commissioners and said he likely would have agreed with the commissioners if they made the opposite decision regarding the plant’s approval.

“Because the record contains competent evidence that supports the board’s decision, the board did not abuse its discretion,” he wrote. “I am therefore required to affirm the board’s decision to approve the special-use permit.”

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