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Meeting tonight on land use change for old mine loadout

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An application to Delta County for a land use change will be reviewed tonight during a joint meeting of the Delta County Planning Commission and Upper North Fork Area Planning Committee.

Applicant Mark Levin, with Dumont, Colorado-based Paonia Holdings, Inc., has applied for a land use change under Delta County Specific Development Regulations for a change to commercial and light industrial and agricultural uses on parcels located north of Paonia off of Highway 133, and ancillary property located at 16180 Stevens Gulch Road. The land is currently owned by Bowie Resources, LLC.

An industrial coal load-out site with coal mining-related support activities operated at the site beginning in the late 1970s. Much of the load-out infrastructure, including silos, conveyor belts, waste piles and a railroad spur have been removed under a Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety permit. More reclamation projects, including removal of a bridge over the North Fork of the Gunnison River, an electrical substation and transformers are slated for completion.

Numerous parties are recommending denial by the Delta County Board of County Commissioners until full reclamation has occurred, including the return of a segment of the Farmers Ditch, now piped and buried under several feet of material, to its original course and condition.

Concerns over proposed industrial uses, including storage and repair of heavy equipment and a proposed salvage yard on the bank of the North Fork of the Gunnison River are inconsistent or incompatible with the area's agricultural and tourism-related uses and with the West Elk Scenic Byway have also been expressed.

Other concerns include access to the property, noise, scenic views, air and water pollution, traffic, and requirements of current property owners Bowie Resources, LLC, and future land owners for reclamation under the DRMS permit. Public comments have expressed concerns that approval of the application by the BoCC will set in motion conditions for current and future property owners to be released from reclamation obligations and associated bonds under the permit.

The planning meeting begins at 6 p.m. tonight in the gymnasium of the Energy Tech Building, 218 Fourth Street, Paonia. The BoCC is scheduled to consider the application at the regularly-scheduled Nov. 20 board meeting.

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