Decision expected April 29 after Peak Ranch mine hearing runs into 3rd day |

Decision expected April 29 after Peak Ranch mine hearing runs into 3rd day

A car drives past the Hillyard property just off Colorado Highway 9 north of Silverthorne on Wednesday, April 21. A gravel mine is proposed for the site by owner Peak Materials, which is working through the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety's permitting process to mine and then reclaim the site.
Photo by Ashley Low

What was supposed to be a decision day for the Mined Land Reclamation Board regarding the Peak Ranch Resource Project has been postponed to next week.

On Thursday, April 22, the board heard about six hours of arguments from those who object to the project. Once arguments finished, the board decided to extend the formal hearing to Thursday, April 29.

The Peak Ranch Resource Project is a proposed 75-acre gravel mine north of Silverthorne. Peak Materials filed a permit application last summer for the site, which would be closely connected to its Maryland Creek Ranch facility in Silverthorne. That’s where the gravel would be turned into construction products like sand, gravel, asphalt and concrete.

According to previous Summit Daily reporting, a pre-hearing conference was scheduled in March to designate time limits for each party’s presentations. In the Peak Materials’ board agenda packet, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety had nearly three hours, Peak Materials had nearly four hours and Lower Blue Residents United, represented by Steve Mulliken of Mulliken Weiner Berg & Jolivet, had just over seven hours. Friends of the Lower Blue River, residents and neighbors each had under an hour to present.

The limits include the time it takes to present, rebut and make closing arguments.

As the day progressed, board Chairperson Lauren Duncan eyed the time and brought up potentially hosting another day to hear rebuttals and closing arguments.

“At this point, it’s about 3 o’clock on our second day, but we do have 4 3/4 hours left of dedicated time that was included in the pre-court hearing order,” Duncan said. “That includes the rebuttal statements from both the applicant, objectors and division as well as the closings for all three. … In addition to that, we might need time for executive session as well as deliberation. So there’s really no way we’re going to get that done today.”

As the discussion continued, Jeff Fugate, first assistant attorney general for the state mining division, suggested extending the process to a third day to wrap up the hearing.

“If we start rebuttal now, it would be a little disjointed to start and pick it up a week from now,” Fugate said. “I think staff’s preference would be to recess now, (and) table rebuttal and closing deliberations to next week.”

Duncan acknowledged that an extra day would be a burden, especially on the public and expert witnesses, all of whom hadn’t expected to continue deliberations into the following week.

After the hearing, Jonathan Knopf, executive director of Friends of the Lower Blue River, said he felt good about what he and his organization left on the table and that he had no concerns as the process moves forward.

“I have no concerns at all,” Knopf said. “From my standpoint, we played our hand. We showed our facts.”

If the board approves the application, Peak Materials would also need two permits from Summit County — one to mine or extract materials on the property and one to import the materials to the company’s Maryland Creek Ranch facility — before the project could more forward.

Representatives from the state mining division and Peak Materials did not respond to requests for comment. On behalf of the board, Duncan directed questions to Charles Kooyman, senior assistant attorney general for the division, who also did not respond.

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