Garfield County considers tougher mining regulations for Land Use Code

In a joint work session at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the Garfield County Commissioners and the Planning and Zoning Commission will review a proposed package of new standards to govern mining operations.

Please log in to the online webinar meeting (instructions below). Your presence will show your support for the proposed new mining standards and encourage county officials to adopt these new standards.

The webinar format for the work session, used to comply with social distancing requests from public health officials, has inherent limits. GSCA Executive Director Jeff Peterson will make comments on behalf of members of the Alliance expressing our strong support for the new standards. The Alliance will also review the draft standards and may suggest additional measures.

The proposed standards will apply across Garfield County, meeting goals set out by the county commissioners to protect the public health, safety and welfare of county residents, and to protect natural resources, environmentally sensitive lands and the character of Garfield County.

BACKGROUND

In November 2019, the Garfield County Commissioners enacted a six-month moratorium on accepting new or amended applications for gravel and mining operations. The time-out gave county officials an opportunity to amend the county’s Land Use Code regulations governing mining operations.

Over the ensuing four months, the county’s Community Development Department has worked with Barbara Green, an expert in Colorado’s 1041 land use code regulations, to develop a package of code revisions focused on mining.

USING 1041 POWERS FOR MINING

The new regulations, to be added to the county’s Land Use Code, would require mining companies to undergo a 1041 review process in order to obtain an operating permit from Garfield County.

The county currently uses its 1041 powers within the Land Use Code to govern airports, heliports, water projects, landfills, water and wastewater treatment plants, highways and transit stations.

Applying 1041 powers to mining would give the county “added tools to address larger impacts that can be associated with large-scale mining projects,” according to a cover memo from the Garfield County Community Development Department describing the proposed regulations.

PROPOSED 1041 REGULATIONS

The proposed new 1041 regulations for mining would:

  • Create Mineral Resource Areas where the 1041 mining regulations would apply. These areas would include lands within the county’s Rural, Public Lands and Resource Lands zone districts. Other zone districts would not be included. Mining operations would not be permitted in Industrial zones.
  • Draw a clear line of separation between sand and gravel operations and the mining of rock. Sand and gravel operations will continue to be governed under existing regulations.
  • Expand requirements for greater detail in all 1041 permit applications, although some requirements can be waived by county staff if they are not relevant.
  • Application details include maps, permits from other agencies, property rights, technical and financial feasibility, as well as housing, economic impacts, recreation, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, scenic views, water, wildlife habitat, geologic hazards and fire protection.
  • Set forth additional permit application details specific to mining operations, described on 11 pages, covering the mining plan, blasting, air and water quality, dust suppression, spills, wastewater, noise, roadways, lighting, geothermal resources, and emergency response.
  • Expand and clarify standards that must be met to obtain and hold any 1041 permit.
  • Set forth additional 1041 standards for mining operations, described on six pages, covering air quality, blasting, scenic views, water and groundwater, wetlands, geothermal resources, spills, wastewater, noise, surface disturbance, traffic, roads, haul routes, lighting, reclamation, and compliance with state and federal regulations.

DOWNLOAD THE DRAFT REGULATIONS
73 pages with cover memo, 1 MB

REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

Attend by computer or by telephone.

Register here for the Garfield County Joint Work Session Webinar.

The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. Register before the meeting starts, then check your email inbox for the information you’ll need to join the webinar using a computer or telephone.

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