Delta County planners have taken steps early on to begin dealing with issues that could arise from a specific development application for another gravel pit here.
Recent proposals for gravel pit development in the county have run into storms of objection from nearby neighbors.
The North Road gravel pit application, scheduled for hearing by the Delta County Planning Commission on Jan. 22, is in about as rural and unoccupied an area as can be found on a paved county road.
While the area is very rural, the few human neighbors of the proposed project are joined regularly by thousands of migrating sandhill cranes that migrate through the area stopping overnight at Fruitgrowers Reservoir a half mile west of the proposed pit.
The proposed location is on the north side of North Road and encompasses three, 40-acre parcels for a total of 92.31 permitted acres.
The county staff hired a natural resources consulting firm, Bio-Logic, to conduct an assessment of the property and the proposal. The county has also consulted with the Black Canyon Audubon society on the plan.
Concerns were raised at the Surface Creek Area APC meeting on Jan. 7. According to the minutes of that meeting, neighbor Dave Galinat and his wife "expressed concerns with health issues for their grandson" from diesel fumes and dust from the on-site rock crusher.
Galinat and Eckert naturalist Evelyn Horn, who is also a neighbor in the area, had concerns about impacts to the migrating cranes and other birds that use the reservoir.
Gravel businessman Hans Benson raised the issue of the intersection of North Road and Highway 65.
According to the Black Canyon Audubon Society, the consultations with the county have resulted in a series of proposed mitigations to address concerns. They are the following:
• Reduce the speed limit on North Road at the reservoir from 45 to 35;
• Prohibit the use of jake brakes on trucks descending Cedar Mesa at the reservoir;
• Road signs will warn of pedestrian traffic;
• No crusher operations during spring crane migration, and restricted operations at other times;
• Eventual reclamation will provide a rangeland environment;
• Construction and maintenance of a parking area and bird watching site off North Road and adjacent to the reservoir, and;
• The three, 40-acre parcels will be placed in a conservation easement following the end of mining operations.
The mitigations are acceptable to members of the local Audubon Society chapter, according to a letter from the group's president Jon Horn.
The county planning department envisages a 16-year life of the mining operations as proposed.
Property owners for the parcels are Jennifer Widhalm, Patricia Ellis, and Bill and Janet Martin.
The county planning commission will hold its public hearing on the proposal on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Room 234 at the county courthouse beginning at 5:30 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus