Neighbors fume over plant
Following a nearly three-hour public hearing in which neighbors voiced their concerns, the Grand County Planning Commission voted, 5-1, Wednesday, Oct. 13, to recommended approval of a special use permit for an asphalt plant in Fraser. The Grand County commissioners will consider the recommendation along with additional public comments at a hearing in early November. (The date has yet to be set.)The permitee, Morrow & Sons, owns the asphalt plant located on County Road 5 outside Fraser. The plant is operated by Everist Materials LLC. Several other industrial operations take place in the same area, including a gravel pit owned by Lee Murphy and leased to Morrow & Sons, (the asphalt plant is also located on Murphy property), the county-owned Benson Gravel Pit next door and the Mountain Park Concrete batch plant owned by the Docheff family. County staff has received numerous neighbor complaints over the past few years regarding the air quality impacts of the asphalt plant, especially during temperature inversions. Other complaints pertain to truck traffic on the road around the industrial sites and silt flowing into the local waterways from the industrial operations. Jay Clough, Barbara Parker and Mark and Kristen Chua were on hand to voice concerns at the planning commission hearing Wednesday.”Our goal is to get them to operate with their neighbors in mind,” said Jay Clough in advance of the meeting. Clough, who has lived on Crooked Creek for 20 years, said the air quality during inversions is so bad some days that he can’t go out of his house. He also worries about how the plant’s emissions are affecting water quality. “What goes up comes down,” he saidClough said he and his neighbors not only want to see the asphalt plant comply with state regulations, but he wants the county to look at the “whole picture” – air quality, safety, hours of operation, traffic. “It’s the second most industrial area in the county,” he noted. But, he added, “We don’t want anybody to lose jobs. We also don’t want anybody to lose their lives. The county holds the hammer with special use permits.”A call to Morrow & Sons on Thursday was not returned by press time.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Quality Division has been closely monitoring the plant since the last permit renewal five years ago, and several violations have been cited:Morrow & Sons• February 2006 – Operating equipment without a permit with penalty of $3,375; and,• May 2007 – Opacity (smoke) violation from two rock crushers with penalty of $15,200.Everist Materials• October 2007 – Opacity violation from the Mountain Park concrete batch plant, which is no longer operated by Everist, with penalty of $16,200 (fine included violations at Murphy Pit and another facility in Summit County);• September 2009 – Daily site visits over a three-week period resulted in one opacity violation. Enforcement is still pending for this violation as well as two reporting violations. The permitee is disputing the last violation.
The planning commission recommended that the 30-year-old special use permit be renewed and that the asphalt plant be made “permanent” rather than “temporary,” with the condition that the permitee report all future violations in writing to the County Planning and Zoning Department within 30 days of said violations. The commission’s recommendation states that protecting the region’s environmental quality is a crucial role of the county. County planner Kristen Manguso wrote in the draft recommendation that “violations of the Air Quality Regulations and fines issued by the CDPHE over the past few years for this operation indicate the permitee is not complying with the environmental quality requirement within the Master Plan.”However, Manguso adds, “Another goal of the Master Plan is that new development should be served with adequate infrastructure. There remains an obvious public need for this pit’s gravel supply, especially on the east end of Grand County where this pit is located.”If the special use permit is renewed, staff is recommending that hours of operation remain 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday (not including trucks returning to the pit). That said, the permitee will be required to identify inversion days and take action to avoid air quality issues in the Fraser Valley. “If another state air quality notice of violation is issued, the permitee will immediately be required to appear before the Board of County Commissioners, and the permitee is on notice that hours of operation for the asphalt plant may then be limited or the permit revoked,” states the staff recommendation.Staff also suggested that the permit term be for a three-year period rather than a five-year period.- Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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