Grand County approves permit for Blue Valley gravel pit | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County approves permit for Blue Valley gravel pit

Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

The Grand County Board of Commissioners has approved a special use permit for a temporary sand and gravel pit near Kremmling.

The board voted unanimously to grant the permit to Kirkland Construction LLLP following a five-hour hearing on Tuesday, March 17.

The 30-acre site, located on Blue Valley Ranch, will supply material for safety improvements along State Highway 9.

Blue Valley Ranch, which has already contributed millions of dollars to the CDOT project, will lease the site to Kirkland.

The site, which is located along SH-9 where the project will take place, will also include a ready-mix concrete batch plant and an asphalt plant.

Kirkland asserts is proximity will keep more trucks off of county roads, making the project safer and reducing wear on infrastructure.

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Kirkland also maintains that the pit makes the project economically feasible.

But opponents said the pit would only further exclude local businesses from being involved in the project.

Many suggested that Kirkland utilize existing pits like the Yust Gravel Pit, which is located just off of SH-9 on the Trough Road.

Jerry Carpenter, who owns the Yust Pit, said his business will already suffer from the SH-9 project. Most of his business comes from south of the project area in Summit County, he said.

Not being involved in the project itself was only salt on the wound.

Carpenter suggested that the board restrict certain activities at the pit.

"Don't let them crush, don't let them put an asphalt plant, don't let them put a concrete plant," he said. "Then it invites more for the locals. The gravel pit industry is tough, especially in west Grand County."

The board can't consider inclusion of local businesses in its decision to grant the permit, but Commissioner James Newberry said it still bothered him that dollars wouldn't be going back into the county.

"I feel like Grand County got the short end of the stick, if not even poked in the eye a little bit," Newberry said. "And I say that based on the fact that our job is to look after Grand County and to do what's best for Grand County."

Still, some residents, including other gravel pit owners, said they supported the gravel pit.

Susie Docheff, who owns a gravel pit with her husband Cody, said she supported the gravel pit.

"I can't think of anyone who has done more than their share than Blue Valley Ranch, and I would really encourage you to approve their gravel pit," she said.

The pit is especially contentious among those who live near the proposed site.

Residents of Blue Valley Acres, located just south of the site, argued on Tuesday that the gravel pit could disrupt wildlife habitat and decrease nearby property values.

"Please do not approve this because it's going to ruin everything out there that we love," said Kendall Hainey, a Blue Valley Acres resident. "It's not needed."

Martin Stringfellow, who owns three lots adjacent to the proposed site, said he moved to the area for the wildlife that thrives in the land surrounding his house.

"We want the highway project," he said. "But it's not necessary to have this pit in that location when you have five other pits."

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reviewed the permit application and made recommendations to mitigate impacts to wildlife. CPW will continue to monitor the site throughout the gravel pit's operation.

Bill Gray, senior planner, said he had conferred with County Assessor Tom Weydert and determined that the pit would not affect property values.

The gravel pit will only operate for the duration of the project, and Kirkland said all reclamation activities would be completed by early 2017.

Kirkland must still acquire a 111 permit from the state before it can begin work on the gravel pit. Kirkland has applied for the permit and officials said they expect to hear back on March 26.

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