Commissioners address air quality concerns near asphalt plant

The Grand County Commissioners are hoping to find a solution to citizens’ concerns about air pollution from an asphalt plant on the eastern end of the county.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Rich Cimino acknowledged he had received a few complaints about the smell and asked what could be done to manage the air quality concerns. The plant has long held a special use permit, and Cimino noted that asphalt production remains important to Grand.

“Construction is very much needed in the county,” he said.

Cimino asked if purchasing devices to measure air pollution might be an option, but County Manager Kate McIntire emphasized that regulating air quality is the state’s responsibility. The commissioners were cautioned against getting too involved with these type of complaints.

However, the commissioners still asked for more communication with the state to try to ensure the issue gets resolved.

“We don’t want to be in the business of doing the state’s job, yet at the same time we need to hold them accountable to do their jobs,” Commissioner Merrit Linke said. “If they’re the ones who are supposed to be doing it, we have to make that a priority when it’s this critical of an issue to make sure they’re compliant.”

Another option the county has is to pull the special use permit that allows the asphalt plant to operate. Commissioner Kris Manguso recalled a situation in which the county issued a 10 day notice to fix a similar problem, as the permit requires the plant to correct any noise or air quality issues if they extend beyond the property.

Manguso also encouraged staff to contact the permit holder, as it did not seem based on Tuesday’s discussion that the asphalt plant had been made aware of the complaints.

In other business:

• The commissioners approved a letter to Blue Valley Ranch thanking the ranch for letting firefighting entities use their water resources, including water from the ranch reservoirs, for fire suppression in the Dice Hill Fire.

• The board continued discussions about a De-Gallagher Amendment ballot measure. There is some concern that if voters passed a measure stabilizing mill levies, which the county wants to put on November’s ballot, it could add additional taxes to commercial properties.

Commercial properties are already taxed on a 28% assessment rate, compared to 7.15% for residential properties. The measure would raise mills to keep the residential tax rate at 7.15% if the assessment rate goes down, but this could also raise commercial property taxes.

The commissioners instructed county staff to look at avenues to keep commercial property tax rates consistent if the ballot measure were to pass.

• The nonprofit Historic Fraser gave an update on the completed construction at the 4 Bar 4 barn, thanking the county for a no-cost building permit. Work on the historic Stagecoach Hotel begins this month, and the agency asked for a county donation of Class C gravel.

The site has some issues with drainage, so Historic Fraser asked for one tandem load prior to excavation work and another four loads after that for drainage. The commissioners were supportive of the project, but Cimino raised a concern about consistency when it comes to handing out free gravel from the county.

Despite those concerns and citing the unique situation of the 4 Bar 4 work, the commissioners unanimously approved the five tandems to be distributed at the convenience of the road and bridge department.

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