Gravel pit’s lawsuit against Granby ends with judge affirming town’s decision

A Grand County District Court judge has ruled in favor of the town of Granby after Reclamation Ridge sued disputing the town’s decision on a conditional use permit violation.

In 2018, the Granby Board of Trustees held two hearings based on neighbor complaints against the gravel pit and determined that Reclamation Ridge had violated its conditional use permit governing operations at the pit.

The town fined Reclamation Ridge $2,500 and added a condition to the permit requiring dust mitigation. Soon after, Reclamation Ridge filed a lawsuit that went on for more than two years.

The lawsuit claimed the trustees violated the company’s right to due process during two quasi-judicial hearings. Reclamation Ridge alleged the town was wrong to place the burden of proof on the company to show it had not violated the conditional use permit and that a board member conducted an ex parte investigation of the complaint.

While the court agreed that the board should not have placed the burden of proof on Reclamation Ridge, Judge Mary Hoak still affirmed the town trustees’ determination that the permit had been violated.

Essentially, the court found that even though the town unfairly placed the burden of proof on the gravel pit, the hearing was fair and it did not change the outcome.

Hoak also agreed that the board abused its discretion when a board member conducted as ex parte investigation, which the town did not deny. Trustee Becky Johnson described visiting the pit during the hearing, but the court determined that Reclamation Ridge did not prove it prejudiced the hearing.

For other complaints raised by the suit, the judge agreed with the town’s defense. While Reclamation Ridge alleged that the town did not give the gravel pit time to cure its possible breach, Hoak found that an email sent by the town before the first hearing in 2018 counted as proper notice.

Reclamation Ridge went on to claim that the term “neighboring properties” in the permit was too vague, but the court agreed with the board’s interpretation. Hoak also found that the extensive evidence submitted to the trustees justified their ruling.

Another claim of Reclamation Ridge asserted that the emailed notice of the hearing was returned undelivered, but the record showed that the owner of Reclamation Ridge attended both hearings related to the issue. Because Reclamation Ridge was able to address the complaints against the gravel pit, the court found no due process violations.

Hoak affirmed the town trustees’ determination that Reclamation Ridge violated its conditional use permit and their decision to issue fines and modify the permit.

Reclamation Ridge has 30 days to appeal the district court’s decision, which was issued May 4, but Granby’s attorney said an appeal is unlikely. The town will not recover the attorney fees associated with the suit, but the attorney also indicated that the costs were minimal.

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