Summit County hearing for rock-crushing permit will likely be delayed
Residents hoping to lobby Summit County commissioners against a proposed rock-crushing operation on Tiger Road today will likely have to hold off another two weeks before speaking their piece.
The Upper Blue Planning Commission denied a permit request last April from the company Peak Materials to start crushing gravel on an 89-acre parcel known as the Mascot Placer. Peak Materials has since appealed the decision to the Summit County Board of County Commissioners and the hearing, originally set for June 12, was reset for today after Breckenridge Town Council jumped into the debate and sided with concerned homeowners by asking the county to uphold the denial of the permit.
Now, county staff and the applicant have requested another continuance until July 24 so they can have more time to analyze the cumulative traffic impacts on Tiger Road and continue working toward a compromise, said Summit County manager Scott Vargo.
“We’re offering to play a role in the restoration project, and that’s the crux of our application,” Peak Materials general manager John O’Hara said. “Really, we’re just trying to play our piece in the valley, do it well and be a good neighbor in the process.”
The county commissioners will have to approve the latest requested delay at today’s commission meeting, and the opportunity for public comments will also be at the commission’s discretion. Speaking to the likelihood the delay will be granted, Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said she doesn’t know of any requests for a continuance that have not been approved.
With that in mind, residents are gearing up for July 24, and one of the concerned homeowners, Bruce Menzel, said they’ll be coming into the meeting with “actual records” showing just how bad the situation has become.
Performing a traffic count, Breckenridge police have already confirmed that as many as 40-50 large trucks were taking Tiger Road during the counters’ two-hour observation windows. Some of the people who live along the route say on heavy days they’re seeing well over 100 large trucks going up and down Tiger Road, which cuts through residential neighborhoods in and outside of Breckenridge.
Much of that traffic is coming from the county and town’s joint effort to restore the Swan River basin on the Williams Placer, just downstream of the privately owned Mascot Placer. A restoration project on the Williams Placer has been ongoing and there’s currently a similar rock-crushing operation on that site.
According to Breckenridge officials, the work on the Williams Placer could wrap up as early as next Labor Day and the biggest fear for many of the residents is that, with another operation running on a new five-year permit, there could no end in sight for all the heavy trucks they’ve been seeing — or worse, an increase in the numbers.
“This is going and coming from the Williams site and if you add the projected trucks for the Mascot site, it gets much, much worse,” said Menzel, adding that “the neighborhood is in this for the long haul.”
A letter to the county commissioners signed by Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula acknowledges that “there may be some willingness on the part of the applicant” to limit the number of trucks taking Tiger Road while work on the Williams Placer is in “full swing.” But that may not be good enough, according to the letter, which concludes: “Unless you have an agreeable solution by the parties, including the affected residents, which would result in a significant reduction of truck traffic, we would respectfully ask that you uphold denial for the (permit).”
Vargo said the end of the work on Williams Placer will ultimately be determined by market conditions and the need for crushed rock, but once done, there could be some benefits of allowing another rock-crushing operation on the Mascot Placer, including continued restoration work up on the Mascot Placer for which some crushed material will be needed, much like what’s been done at the Williams Placer.
Furthermore, Peak Materials has been operating at the Mascot Placer on a state-approved mining permit for over a decade and even if the county were to uphold the planning body’s denial of a county-issued permit, some heavy traffic would surely continue off the site. By approving a conditional-use permit, though, the county could elicit some controls over the operations at the Mascot Placer where currently there are none, in addition to securing other community benefits, like easements.
Vargo said he isn’t sure how denying the permit might affect the restoration work, which the owner of the Mascot Placer has agreed to participate in, though he thinks it could lead to significant delays or perhaps stop it from taking place altogether.
At the same time, he said, it’s up to county staff to work out the best potential agreement with Peak Materials, the homeowners and the county as possible.
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