B&B deal on the rocks | SummitDaily.com
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B&B deal on the rocks

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge and county officials might issue the state an ultimatum later this month, saying if the Colorado State Board of Health doesn’t agree to the B&B Mines consent decree, the whole deal could be off.”It would almost have to come to that point,” said Breckenridge town manager Tim Gagen. “If we can’t get some definitive direction, it’s time to resolve this thing or not. We would back out of the deal. The types of things they’re asking for are things we don’t believe we can live with.”The town and county have been in negotiations with the B&B Mine owners, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and various other agencies for four years to purchase 1,840 acres of land northwest of Breckenridge. The town and county would like to preserve the land as open space with recreational, historical and cultural opportunities.But the land is dotted with old mines, some of which release heavy metals into nearby creeks. The consent decree outlines how the town and county plan to mitigate the contamination, notably zinc and cadmium contamination at the Royal Tiger and Wellington-Oro mines and the Jessie Mill site. Those two minerals were identified as being the most significant contaminants in an Environmental Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EECA) more than three years ago.The next scheduled closing date is Feb. 23, but that is unlikely to take place, Gagen said. It will represent the sixth time the deal has been postponed.One of the two hurdles the town and county have run into in trying to close the deal is that the state board of health now wants the list of metals expanded to include lead.”We said, ‘Wait. That’s not what it said in the EECA,'” Gagen said. “The EPA is OK with it (what the EECA lists). These should not be (deal) killer issues.”The second issue is that the Attorney General’s office, on behalf of the board of health, wants the entire parcel to be protected under a conservation easement, which the town and county oppose. Placing such an easement on the land could preclude it from anything other than open space uses and could theoretically eliminate recreational opportunities.Town and county officials have also had difficulty finding an organization willing to place the easement on the land. The Continental Divide Land Trust, which has many parcels of land under management in Summit County, said the parcel is too large for them to manage, Gagen said.Yet, the odds that the deal goes through is still better than 50-50, Gagen said.”We think the issues are pretty resolvable,” he said. “We’ve reached out to the right folks who can make the final decision. We knew it would be complex going in. Maybe we didn’t expect this much complexity.”The town and county have back-up plans if the deal falls through, but Gagen declined to elaborate.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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