Gypsum supports new gravel pit plan for 37-acre operation south of airport
GYPSUM — A week after the Eagle County commissioners approved a new 37-acre gravel pit operation just south of the Eagle County Regional Airport, Gypsum officials also voiced their support for the plan.
While the Gypsum Town Council won’t formally act on the proposal, this week members discussed the plan. Members verbally endorsed the Tower Pit, presented by local excavator Chris Fedrizzi.
“I am a big proponent of if you have a resource, use it while you can,” said Gypsum Town Council member Chris Estes during the Tuesday night discussion.
The Tower Pit will mine gravel from a location south of U.S. Highway 6 and it will be operated by a new local partnership.
The mining operation will involve 36.7 acres adjacent to the Eagle County Airport near the Colorado Army National Guard High-Altitude Aviation Training Site, on the north side of the airport property. The mining operation will be run by a new entity — Eagle Rocks Aggregate — which is a partnership of two local excavating companies. Site Resource Management, owned by Chris and Shannon Fedrizzi, and Arena Excavating, owned by Steve and Jen Jewett, formed the new company. Merv Lapin owns the Tower Pit property.
The county’s approval to mine the approximately 37 acres, stipulated that no more than 10 acres of the property would be disturbed at any one time with most active mining happening between May to October. According to the application, the mine will be in operation for approximately 12 years, with two years at the end of the operation to allow for completion of reclamation. The term of the special use permit is 14 years.
Fedrizzi noted that Eagle Rocks Aggregated negotiated a special mining operations plan with Eagle County.
“Basically, what it does is commit us to a higher standard,” Fedrizzi said. He noted the agreement will also be more nimble, with local enforcement of dust control and other issues.
Along with various operations criteria mandated by Eagle County, the project also was vetted by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA made the determination that the pit presented no hazard to air navigation.
Eagle County approved the special use permit required for the pit to begin operation but stipulated that Gypsum had to grant a U.S. Highway 6 road access permit. That permit request will be reviewed by the Gypsum Planning Commission next month.
The road access permit will mandate acceleration/deceleration lanes be constructed at the pit entrance to alleviate truck traffic at the site. Fedrizzi said in discussions with Gypsum staff, Eagle Rocks Aggregate is looking at community concerns including issues regarding a natural gas line in the area and some improvements to U.S. Highway 6.
As for the visual impact of the pit, Fedrizzi said the Tower Pit should be harder to see than other gravel operations in the valley.
“We actually feel that being above Highway 6, we will be less visible,” he said.
Council member Tom Edwards said he was not enthused about the possibility of an asphalt operation at the site. Fedrizzi responded that Eagle Rocks Aggregate isn’t planning its own asphalt operation and isn’t actively seeking a contract with an asphalt operator. Rather, he said, the company’s plan is to focus on mining the estimated 2 million tons of gravel at the pit and bring competition to the local gravel market. Currently, United Companies is the sole gravel operation in the area.
“We feel like this is a great opportunity for us,”Fedrizzi said.
He added that other excavators in the valley have welcomed his plan for the Tower Pit. “There is a friendly competition atmosphere among the excavators in this valley. About half of us went to Eagle Valley High School,” he said.
“I can tell you from a contractor perspective, we are excited,” said Scott Green, one of Fedrizzi’s friendly competitors and one of the EVHS alums he spoke of.
The Tower Pit hopes to begin mining operations this summer.
The valley’s commercial and residential property markets are similar in some ways — availability is tight and nothing is what you’d call “cheap.”