Gravel mine plan on Colorado River returning to Eagle County Planning Commission

Owner is also being sued by waterskiers in case involving another Dotsero property

A view of the Colorado River in Eagle County near the location of a proposed gravel mine. A pubilc hearing on the mine has been rescheduled to Oct. 4 at 3 p.m. at the Eagle County building in Eagle.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Applicants for a gravel extraction operation along the Colorado River will return to the Eagle County Planning Commission on Wednesday requesting a special use permit to begin mining.

County staff has recommended the commission approve the special use permit with conditions.

Ideas for a gravel pit in the Dotsero area along the Colorado River have been rejected twice since 2016, but the project found a new life in 2022 following a ruling from the Eagle County Planning Commission which said the project does not need an exception to the Dotsero Area Community Plan to be approved.

Plans for a gravel pit and asphalt plant in the Dotsero-area location first came before the Gypsum Town Council in 2016 and were rejected at that time. Current owner Mike Young then acquired the property in 2019, changed the name to Rincon Materials, and began making alterations to the plan that had been denied in 2016.

Young is a luxury real estate developer in Eagle County; he founded Sentry Construction in 1985 and has “a vast portfolio comprised of over 30 years experience and 400+ homes built,” according to

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In Dotsero, Young constructed a man-made waterskiing lake which his company described as an exclusive private club offering access to the lake, boats, locker room and camping area along a half-mile bank of the Eagle River.

Former members of that waterski club are now suing Young over the terms of the agreement, court records show, in a case currently underway in Eagle County court.

Both the waterski lake and the proposed gravel mine are located near the confluence of the Colorado River and the Eagle River, an area Young seeks to further develop with Rincon Materials. The company submitted a new iteration of the gravel mine plan to the Eagle County Planning Commission in 2020, which contemplated a gravel-only operation using a conveyor instead of trucks on the 108-acre parcel located north of U.S. Highway 6 and east of the Colorado River.

But despite the changes, the effort received a large response from members of the public who spoke out against the mine, prompting the Eagle County Planning Commission, in early 2021, to deny by a 4-2 vote both the special use permit and the exception to the Dotsero Area Community Plan sought by the applicant.

After being denied the exception to the Dotsero Area Community Plan, Rincon Materials filed an appeal, taking issue with the county staff’s interpretation of the regulations necessitating the exception to the Dotsero Area Community Plan.

The planning commission agreed with Rincon’s reasoning, and in June 2022 ruled that the developers did not need an exception to the Dotsero Area Community Plan, and instead needed only to obtain a special use permit for the project.

The county has since received an application from Rincon Partners for a consolidated special use permit, and that application will receive a site visit and public hearing on Wednesday.

“The applicant proposes an overall permit area of 106.7 acres with a disturbed area of 69.5 acres which includes mining pits, an access road, a conveyor route, and a facilities area,” county planners wrote in a staff report to the planning commission ahead of Wednesday’s meeting. “The mining area will be located on a dry terrace elevated above the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad and irrigated pasture to the west, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands to the east, and rural residential and
industrial parcels to the north and south. The expected maximum mining area at any time will be 5-10 acres, with the facilities area being roughly 9 acres in size. Mining will occur in two pits, starting with the southern Pit 1 then extending to northern Pit 2.”

County staff, in analyzing the conditions required for a special use permit, have determined that the permit application conforms to the standards of the area’s comprehensive plan; is comparable with surrounding uses; meets the zone district standards; has a design that minimizes adverse impacts, environmental impacts and impacts on public facilities; and also meets site development standards and other provisions.

But the town staff has also included a host of recommended conditions, including a provision that would require Eagle County Open Space & Natural Resources department approval of a plan from Rincon “to avoid significant habitat deterioration and maintain viable habitat and connectivity for the wildlife in the area.”

Rincon would also need to obtain the necessary state and federal permits from the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety; the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

County staff also suggested the commissioners, upon approval, require Rincon to construct a new access road “more appropriate for large truck traffic,” obtain a new Colorado Department of Transportation Access Permit for the road, and pay a road impact fee of $156,982.63.

Other conditions recommended upon approval include a requirement that Rincon provides to the county the annual compliance review report it submits to the Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety each year; Rincon uses wildlife-proof refuse containers on-site; and Rincon removes portions of the conveyor belt when not in use.

Young said Rincon has been working with county staff and Colorado Parks and Wildlife on a plan to dismantle the conveyors from April 15 to July 15 every year, adding that upon completion of the mining activity, the area can be reclaimed as a wildlife corridor.

“With lakes and water flowing through the property with high irrigated pastures, the property will turn into a wildlife haven,” Young said in an email.

The site visit is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday; attendees are being asked to park along the south side of Highway 6 across from the intersection with the driveway located at 3785 Highway 6.

The public hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Eagle County room at 500 Broadway in Eagle.

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