Permit for controversial Granby gravel pit stalls in fraught public hearing
A public hearing for a conditional-use permit on a controversial gravel pit in Granby ended inconclusively Tuesday night.
The Granby Board of Trustees held the hearing Tuesday on a proposed permit for Reclamation Ridge, a gravel pit operation located off West Meadow Road in Granby, a short distance east of U.S. Highway 34. The permit, if approved, would allow for the continuation and potential expansion of Reclamation Ridge’s operations under a set of specifically outlined conditions.
The public hearing lasted roughly an hour-and-a-half and included comment from Reclamation Ridge’s in-house legal counsel, Jeff Culbertson, as well as two local residents who own property in the vicinity around the gravel pit. Culbertson told the board he believes the application is complete, the use is compatible with the area and that the pit is in compliance with all state requirements.
He touched on the scope of view from surrounding properties of the operations, which, per the permit, restricts the pit’s equipment, stockpiled materials and operations from being visible.
Culbertson contended that certain leeway for the scope of viewing was warranted as some of the surrounding properties are able to look directly onto the pit’s floor. He further claimed that other industrial operations in the area do not require to not be visible to neighboring properties.
“One thing we asked for is that we be treated like any other industrial operation,” Culbertson told the board.
He later said he believes Reclamation Ridge has a “target on our back.”
Granby Trustee Natascha O’Flaherty noted that the pit’s permit application contemplates potentially expanding the pit laterally into a nearby lot.
O’Flaherty explained that the pit’s owner, Ken Evans, previously told the board the pit’s gravel mining work would be completed last fall.
“Is this for an expansion of the pit?” O’Flaherty questioned. “What are you actually asking to do?”
Culbertson answered that the pit is not currently mining or extracting gravel. But could not do so anyway without the conditional-use permit.
Sharon Spurlin, a Grand County resident who owns property that she claims is impacted by the pit’s operations, spoke to the board on behalf of several other local citizens who live in the vicinity around the pit. She outlined a series of concerns she and others have, asking the board to impose more restrictive limitations such as those for the pit’s hours of operation and dust mitigation requirements.
A major sticking point during the discussion, and a significant factor that led to the issue being continued with no decision, was an ongoing debate regarding the definition of the term “pit operations.” The debate is pertinent because the pit’s “operations” are restricted under the conditional-use permit to specific times of day, Monday through Saturday. The pit cannot conduct operations outside those hours. If they are found to have operated outside these hours, the pit can be fined or even lose the permit that allows for its continued operation.
Reclamation Ridge contended that operations should be defined as mining and crushing operations and that activities such as maintenance, repair and sales should not fall under the definition of operations.
Spurlin and other local residents lobbied for a more expansive definition that would include “any and all gravel pit business.”
“We need to clearly define operation of a gravel pit so the neighbors know what to expect,” said Nathan Krob, legal counsel for the town of Granby.
Both the town and Reclamation Ridge agreed to continue the issue until the board’s next meeting, May 28, to provide time to work on a definition of gravel pit operations and to review other concerns raised by Spurlin and nearby property owners.
The gravel pit has been a controversial topic at times for the town of Granby as citizen living around it have lodged complaints about its operations multiple times over the past several years.
In August 2016, the town imposed a $1,500 fine on the pit after ruling it had violated a condition limiting its hours of operation. Two years late, the Granby Board of Trustees ruled that the pit was in violation of its permit because gravel pit equipment and stockpiled material was visible from neighboring properties.
That violation, which resulted in a $2,500 fine, led Reclamation Ridge to file a lawsuit in late October.
The town of Granby’s legal counsel filed an initial response to the suit in early December. Officials from the town board noted that the issue was still in litigation as of Tuesday night.
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