Granby says Reclamation Ridge violated permit by running junkyard

Images dated Oct. 14 from Granby’s code enforcement officer show the scrap yard operating at Reclamation Ridge. The gravel pit is not permitted to run such an operation on site and the town board found Reclamation Ridge to be in violation of its conditional use permit.
Rich Carlson/Town of Granby

The Granby town board declared Reclamation Ridge in violation of its conditional use permit on Tuesday after finding that the gravel pit was illegally operating a junkyard.

Evidence that scrap was being collected at Reclamation Ridge was abundant, from Facebook posts directing folks to the area to drop off scrap to numerous photographs of the operation and a letter supporting the appliance recycling operation.

Reclamation Ridge operates its gravel pit under a special use permit. This means that gravel mining is not a use by right based on Reclamation Ridge’s industrial zoning, and that the town has given approval for it to operate based on a number of conditions.

Operating a junk or salvage yard is also not a use by right, and the town’s permit for Reclamation Ridge restricts usage to only gravel mining and related operations.

Reclamation Ridge has often seen controversy within Granby, most recently this past spring when the town renewed the pit’s special use permit for two more years despite protest from nearby community members.

After meeting with town officials on Oct. 13, Jill and Bill Hansen submitted a complaint to the town on Oct. 21 alleging various violations by Reclamation Ridge with evidence including photos of the debris. There were also Facebook posts referring people to Clive Smith’s operation at that location.

Smith did not speak at Tuesday’s public hearing and declined to comment for this article.

The town’s code enforcement officer, Rich Carlson, investigated the property. According to his report, he inspected the property on Oct. 14 after being let onto the property by a loader driver.

Carlson took photos of spray painted messages that directed people to bring scrap to the back of the pit. There, he found various scrap including junk vehicles, metal, appliances, buckets, a camper, an apparent gas tanker and more, which he also photographed.

Along with operating in a manner not permitted by the town and allegedly having debris visible from the highway, there were environmental concerns about hazardous materials leeching into the ground.

A spray-painted message at the Reclamation Ridge gravel pit instructs people to “dump scrap at back” on Dec. 7. The pit was accused of illegally operating a scrap yard.
Rich Carlson/Town of Granby

On Nov. 12, Reclamation Ridge owner Ken Evans was notified of the alleged violation, given 10 days to remedy the issue and notified of Tuesday’s hearing. According to town manager Ted Cherry, the town received a read receipt for the email on Nov. 29 but did not hear back from Evans.

Evans called the situation a big miscommunication at the hearing, explaining that he allowed his property to be used to stage scrap from the East Troublesome Fire in a noncommercial manner. He said that the material was only supposed to be from the fire, nothing else.

He argued that his property does have a use by right for processing and fabricating materials and products, which he believed more accurately described the situation at the gravel pit. Evans repeatedly asserted that there was no scrap or recycling business at his gravel pit and that he was only trying to help fire victims.

The town board felt, from the presented evidence, that the scrap yard was being used to dispose of appliances along with other material, and that its use expanded beyond fire victims.

Evans maintained that he had not agreed to appliance disposal, and the town board questioned whether he was in control of the operations on his property.

Through discussions, Evans agreed that the effort had gotten out of hand and promised to clean up the property within a few days of the meeting along with posting a “No dumping” sign to stop the improper usage of the property. He also said he would get a Level 1 Environmental Protection Agency inspection at the property to prove that no environmental damage had been done.

Evans had asserted that this operation had been going on since the fire in October 2020, and board members wondered why he didn’t mention it during his permit renewal earlier this year.

Trustees added that they would be willing to look at a request from Reclamation Ridge to temporarily stage scrap from the burn scar if done through the proper channels.

The board unanimously found Reclamation Ridge in violation of its conditional use permit for expanding beyond its permitted use by adding a junk storage facility and for violating of the town’s zoning ordinance. The board did not find the gravel pit in violation of the agreement in relation to waste handling or the visibility of materials and equipment from US Highway 34.

After finding the pit in violation, the board then had to decide on sanctions. The town had the option to void the gravel pit’s permit, suspend the permit until the issue is resolved, impose a fine or adjust the permit.

The trustees decided to give the gravel pit until the next town board meeting to clean up to the satisfaction of the town manager. The board will consider imposing a $2,000 fine at the Jan. 11 meeting.

The decision marks Reclamation Ridge’s third violation of its conditional use permit. The board found the pit in violation of operating outside permitted hours in 2016 and then in 2018 for allowing stockpiled materials to be visible from neighboring properties.

Reclamation Ridge filed a lawsuit against the town for that second finding, but the court ruled in the town’s favor despite a few errors made by the board during the public hearing process.

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