Granby Board approves gravel pit permit following amicable public hearing
A Tuesday night public hearing about a gravel pit in Granby ended surprisingly amicably as the town board approved a conditional use permit for the pit’s operation with no explicit opposition coming from local citizens.
Over the last several weeks officials from the Town of Granby, representatives of Reclamation Ridge, a gravel pit operation in Granby, and a group of concerned local citizens have been at something of an impasse over a conditional use permit application for the pit. Earlier this year representatives of Reclamation Ridge applied for a new conditional use permit for the gravel pit. The permit would allow for the pit’s continued operation and would also allow for the lateral expansion of the pit into an adjacent land parcel.
The permit has wound its way through the local government in recent weeks amidst a series of complaints and debates about the conditions that would be placed upon the pit regarding future operations. At the heart of the issue is a multi-year dispute between the pit and several adjacent property owners, who contend the pit’s operation negatively impacts their respective properties.
Two weeks ago Granby’s Board held a public hearing on the subject but took no action regarding the permit application due to ongoing debates about several issues addressed by the permit. Specifically the board noted there were outstanding questions related to the pit’s permitted hours of operation, dust mitigation efforts and what activities would be included under the definition of “pit operations”.
Tuesday night’s public hearing began with Jeff Culbertson, in-house legal counsel for Reclamation Ridge, addressing the board regarding the concessions the pit was offering to the adjacent property owners. Under the conditional use permit that governed the pit’s operations in 2016 Reclamation Ridge was allowed to operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with no permitted hours on Sunday.
Culbertson informed the board that Reclamation Ridge was willing to compromise on the permitted hours of operation and reduce operational hours to 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, with no permitted hours of operation on Sunday. Culbertson further asked the board to define “pit operations” in the conditional use permit as “the extraction, crushing, stacking and sale of gravel”. Culbertson stressed to the board his desire that the permit not restrict the pit’s ability to conduct maintenance and repair work outside of the permitted “operational hours”.
“To be clear, the hours would be for operations and would not include turning screws and things of that nature,” Culbertson said. “We would like to be able to use the property at any time, as long as it is not one of those four things and is not making noise.”
Culbertson fielded a series of questions from Granby’s Trustees regarding dust mitigation, water well monitoring, viewsheds and a possible future expansion of the pit into an adjacent lot. For their part the citizen who had repeatedly voice opposition to approval of the conditional use permit thanked Reclamation Ridge for their concessions on the pit’s hours of operation, though many continued to harbor concerns.
Bill Spurlin, who lives on property near the pit and who has lodged complaints against the pit several times, thanked Culbertson for the redefined hours of operation.
“I really appreciate the reduced hours,” Spurlin said. “Thank you very much for that. I can’t speak for all neighbors, but a lot of us are very appreciative.”
Spurlin noted that he still has lingering concerns about the potential need for a dirt berm if the pit does expand into the adjacent lot but did not voice opposition to the permit’s approval Tuesday night.
Likewise William Hansen, who has also voiced concerns about Reclamation Ridge in recent years, expressed his thanks for the reduced hours.
“We appreciate that,” Hansen said. “It is a great idea.”
Hansen did not voice opposition to the permit’s approval but did notify the board that he has ongoing concerns about the monitoring of water wells and requested that the permit required the continued monitoring of wells in the area with quarterly reports.
Following the lengthy discussion the Board approved Reclamation Ridge’s conditional use permit unanimously. Under the new permit Reclamation Ridge is permitted to operate from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Pit operations are defined as the extraction, crushing, stacking or sale of gravel. Additionally Reclamation Ridge is required to continue the quarterly monitoring of local water wells and will be required to construct an additional dirt berm if the pit does expand into an adjacent lot.
The pit has been a source of tension for the municipal government several times over recent years as property owners around the pit have lodged complaints about the pit’s operation. In 2016 Reclamation Ridge was found in violation of the pit’s permitted hours of operation and was fined $1,500 by the town board.
In 2018 Granby’s Board of Trustees again found Reclamation Ridge in violation of the pit’s conditional use permit, that time in relation to the pit’s stockpiled materials being visible from neighboring properties. Granby imposed a fine of $2,500 on the pit for the violation. A few weeks later, in October of 2018, legal representatives for Reclamation Ridge filed a lawsuit against the town over the regulatory action.
In late March Reclamation Ridge’s legal counsel filed an opening brief in the case. As of May 30 officials from Granby had not yet filed a response to the opening brief. Court officials confirmed that case remains open and continues to work through the local court system.
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