Garfield P&Z’s 7-0 vote supports new county mining standards

Use of Colorado’s 1041 review process to set new standards for mining operations in Garfield County moved a step closer to enactment Wednesday. The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval.

The 1041 mining standards would be used to evaluate Rocky Mountain Industrials’ limestone mine expansion proposal as well as other proposed mining operations elsewhere in the county. The standards won’t apply to gravel quarries or to gas wells.

P&Z’s positive recommendation is advisory. Authority to enact the mining standards rests with the Garfield County Commissioners, who are slated to hold a public hearing on the 1041 mining standards on Monday, May 4.

While the County Commissioners chose to run the proposed standards by the Planning Commission as a courtesy, it was clear that the questions and clarifications raised by P&Z members yielded valuable improvements.

Over the past month, P&Z’s seven voting members and three alternates have spent many hours, on their own and in four-hour work sessions held March 25 and April 1, reviewing and discussing the proposed standards.

They met again on April 22, using a webinar format, for a two-hour public hearing and final discussion. The meeting ended with a unanimous vote in favor of the proposed standards.

While some P&Z members questioned whether the move to 1041 standards is needed at this time, they all endorsed the substantive content of the standards.

1041 sets clear expectations for mining operations

“These proposed standards will give our county government definitive authority in setting clear expectations for mining operations across Garfield County,” said Jeff Peterson, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Citizens’ Alliance.

“We applaud the P&Z for its thoughtful review of the proposed standards, and appreciate the commission’s unanimous endorsement,” he said.

“The proposed standards spell out what’s expected related to a wide variety of impacts that can result from mining, whether it’s noise, dust, truck traffic, streamflows, wildlife, natural habitat, weeds or wildfire,” Peterson said.

Using 1041 powers gives the county government additional tools to deal with more intense and complex mining proposals, said Sheryl Bower, Community Development Director for Garfield County, in her presentation at the public hearing.

The 1041 standards also give the county flexibility to match its review process to the varying levels of impact presented by different types of mining projects, she said.

Garfield County already uses the 1041 review process to regulate airports, heliports, water projects, landfills, water and wastewater treatment plants, highways and transit stations.

How you can help

• Send a message to the Garfield County Commissioners expressing your support for the proposed 1041 mining standards.

The standards will give Garfield County government clear authority to protect the environment and our public health, safety and welfare from negative impacts of mining. They also set clear expectations for mining companies to meet in order to earn permit approvals and run mining operations over time.

Send your comments by Thursday, April 30, to this email address:
[email protected]

• Attend the Garfield County Commissioners public hearing on the proposed 1041 mining standards on Monday, May 4.

Watch your email inbox for more information about the public hearing start time and how to attend. This will likely be held as a virtual meeting with live, online access.

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