Eagle County approves construction materials recycling operation near Gypsum
Demo debris coming home for a second life
The same product that was once extracted from the Carol Ann gravel pit located just east of Gypsum may be coming back to its point of origin — part of a construction materials repurposing operation called Newby Aggregate Recycling.
On Tuesday, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners approved a special use permit for the 32.4 acre project — part of a 67-acre property owned by Bob Newby that is bordered by the Union Pacific Railroad and U.S. Highway 6 to the south, the biomass plant to the west, Colorado Division of Wildlife public lands to the north, and the Gypsum Ranch Sand and Gravel Pit to the east. This week’s hearing was actually the second time the board considered the file because an error in the public notice for the project required the hearing to be rescheduled.
The construction materials recycling operation will include material stockpiles, an access road, material crushing area, batch plants, and other facility areas. The project planners argued the land’s history as a gravel pit is what makes the property an attractive option for construction materials recycling.
“We are utilizing a previous disturbed industrial site that has only been partially reclaimed,” said project planner Scot Hunn.
Ben Langenfeld, representative for Newby Aggregate Recycling, said the new recycling operation would be on the leading edge of a growing industry.
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“Most of the material that comes out of construction demolition is recyclable,” said Langenfeld. “But most of this material goes to the landfill or is illegally dumped, unfortunately.”
Because construction material is heavy and bulky, it takes up a lot of landfill real estate, Langenfeld continued. “Believe or not, it (demolition material) is the largest percentage of inorganic material that comes into the landfill. I tend to think of recycling construction materials as composting inorganics.”
As with any industrial use, Langenfeld noted the project must address its impacts on neighboring property owners and the community at large. Those impacts include air quality, noise, visual impact and traffic.
Newby Aggregate Recycling must comply with air quality standards set by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Pollution Control Division, which regulates aggregate processing facilities and asphalt batch plants. The facility will be required to obtain proper permitting for these operations. Additionally, Langenfeld said the operation will maintain an air quality hot line so members of the public can report concerns.
Langenfeld said the facility hours will be restricted to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Because of the previous gravel mining operation, the site sits below neighboring properties. Langenfeld noted this topography will help minimize noise and visual impacts. The previous gravel operation also provided traffic mitigation for the new proposal, Langenfeld said, noting that acceleration and deceleration lanes on U.S. Highway 6 are already in place.
“Part of what makes this an attractive project is we don’t have to dump a lot of impacts into a new area,” he said. “We are really minimal in our impacts of the type of facility we are.”
A final mitigation is timing, Langenfeld said. “What we are planning on doing here has an expiration,” he said.
The proposed lifespan for the operation is until Oct. 2, 2039 — the same date that an access permit to the site granted by the town of Gypsum will expire.
Long term concerns
Public comment for the proposal has been modest, noted Eagle County planner Colton Berck. A total of four letters were submitted regarding the plan — two in favor and two opposed. That said, the project did generate opposition from neighboring property owners, valley residents and the town of Gypsum.
In its referral comments regarding the proposal, the town of Gypsum noted that the aggregate facility does not comply with the community’s long-term master plan. Gypsum officials requested that if the project is approved, the lifespan on the use be restricted to the same term as the property access permit granted by the Gypsum Planning Commission. Additionally, town representatives noted that the eventual reclamation plan for the property should include input from Gypsum.
“These types of places are good for water storage,” said Gypsum planner Lana Bryce.
Neighboring property owners Derrick and Kelly Bretta noted that in the 1990s, the county approved the gravel pit operation in the area with the assurance that once the material was mined, industrial uses in the area would cease. The new operation conflicts with those earlier assurances, they said.
“I am very concerned about the dust and the noise and the air quality,” said Kelly Bretta. “Recycling is terrific, but sometimes it is not all that it is cracked up to be.”
“I am very pro recycling when it is in the right location,” offered local resident Joanna Kerwin. “I am very concerned about having a hot mix asphalt plant right there.”
In their deliberations, the commissioners noted Gypsum’s objection to the proposal.
“This is tough because we like to play nice with our neighbors. We don’t want to do something that the town of Gypsum has a big concern about,” said Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney.
She noted that by tying the timing of the special use to the town’s access permit, the county wants to limit the conflict.
“I measure all of the concerns that we heard today with the goal of climate action and I so appreciate the private sector stepping us with a solution,” she added.
“I am not sure there is a good place, ever, for an asphalt plant,” said Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry. However, the proposed site would be less invasive than other possible locations, she noted.
“It is very awkward being in this position with the town of Gypsum, but I do feel the town has some control with their access permit,” Chandler-Henry added.
“This looks like a very sound operation,” said Commissioner Matt Scherr.
The complete Newby Aggregate Recycling file can be viewed at eaglecounty.us/planning/activelanduseapplications.