Opponents of a plan for controversial facilities for recycling and a trash-transfer operation outside of Carbondale continued to assail the proposal on Monday.
Two real estate agents who attended a Garfield County public hearing told the commissioners that they believed the possibility of the facilities being built has lowered property values on Catherine Store Road by 40 to 50 percent and is driving away home buyers.
Others contend that one of the applicants, Silt-based Mountain Roll-offs Inc. (MRI), is already using the site for a recycling operation without a permit, citing a letter the county’s senior planner sent to the company in late October.
MRI and IRMW II LLC are seeking a land-use change permit to allow for the trash transfer and recycling facilities on Catherine Store Road about a mile from Carbondale. The companies want to build the transfer station at the former Mid-Continent coal-loading site, which IRMW II owns, using 5,000 square feet of space in an existing 44,000-square-foot building.
Monday’s meeting was held mainly so the commissioners could move their decision to Dec. 3. The commissioners on Nov. 8 received a technical review of the project from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. But Commissioner Mike Samson said the county board received the applicants’ response to the state review only on Friday. That wasn’t enough time to make a decision by Monday, he said.
The commissioners did take a handful of public comments, and left the public-comment portion open until Dec. 3.
Opposition from Carbondale and Garfield County residents near the site again dominated the comments, as they did during a nearly eight-hour meeting on Sept. 17.
Stephanie Lewis said she and her family live in the Blue Creek Ranch subdivision across the street from the Mid-Continent building. She said she feared for her children’s safety with increased truck traffic on Catherine Store Road. Lewis also said she didn’t move to the valley for foul odors that many foes say would emanate from the site.
Home values already have plummeted 40 to 50 percent, and will likely fall further if the proposal is passed, said Lewis, a real estate agent.
Scott Bayens, representing the Blue Creek Ranch homeowners’ association, which was unanimous in opposing the recycling and trash-transfer plans, said he also is a realtor and backed Lewis’ property-value assertion.
“This is a bell that can’t be un-rung,” Bayens said.
The Blue Creek Ranch HOA helped pay for an economic impact study by Doug Jeavons of Denver-based BBC Research and Consulting. Jeavons’ findings, presented Monday, predict that the value of properties within three-quarters of a mile of the site will drop 8 percent if the facilities go forward; 3.6 percent for homes within a mile-and-a-quarter; and 1.4 percent for homes within a mile-and-three-quarters.
Lost property values could reach $16 million, Jeavons said.
“This is a very prominent site, elevated and highly visible along one of the primary routes into Carbondale,” he said.
Carbondale resident Tom Kilby brought up the Oct. 25 letter that Garfield County senior planner Glenn Hartmann sent to MRI about “code compliance for current uses.”
“The current recycling operation just south of the existing load-out building technically meets the [county land-use code] definition for a recycling collection center and requires a limited impact review approval for it to be operated on the property,” Hartmann wrote.
This is significant for MRI’s current application because the county code “does not allow the issuance of a land-use change permit on property where the county has knowledge of a violation” of the code, the letter says.
The county “informed them that they were already operating a recycling collection center without a permit, today,” Kilby wrote in an email after the meeting. “And these are the guys we are turning this trash facility over to?”
MRI general manager Don VanDevender declined comment Monday evening, saying that a response will be prepared for the Dec. 3 meeting.
But MRI’s attorney, Lawrence Green of Glenwood, in a Nov. 12 letter to Hartmann said his client disagrees with the assertion that the company’s present use of the site meets the definition in the county code of a recycling collection center. MRI currently trucks in recyclable materials at the site and transfers them into other containers for transport to a recycling processing facility.
“However, we request that further discussion on this question be deferred until a decision on the pending application,” Green wrote.
Among the concerns from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment were maintenance of the facilities’ concrete floors to prevent liquid from draining through cracks and affecting soil and groundwater; whether recycling material would be stored outside and, if so, how MRI would prevent it from being a “windblown nuisance;” and leak detection of storage tanks, how they would be monitored and how often they would be emptied.
The Dec. 3 meeting will begin at 8 a.m., and, given the passionate opposition, Commissioner John Martin said he expects it to last until 5 p.m.