Rock quarry roils Red Cliff
Red CLiff, CO Colorado
RED CLIFF, Colorado –The town of Red Cliff could be one step closer to reliving its mining heritage.
The town approved Monday the first reading of an application that would annex property, owned by Paul Moltz, into the town and allow the operation of a stone quarry for up to 15 years, and then the construction of as many as 10 residential homes after the quarry stops operating.
The county denied a nearly identical application about 10 years ago, and opponents of the project say Moltz is trying to annex into the town because it might be easier to get approval.
The property features an exposed outcropping of Sawatch quartzite – a construction stone that is also good for landscaping, according to the Moltz application. The stone is used for things like home exteriors, fireplaces, retaining walls and drainage way stabilization.
County Commissioner Sara Fisher was at Monday’s meeting and offered the expertise of Ray Merry, the county’s environmental health director. The town had been relying on the applicant to be the expert on the various mining impacts, Fisher said, so Merry will be able to review the applicant’s claims and report back to the town before the second reading in early October.
“There’s all sorts of reasons that we just want the town to be really conscientious (about approving this project),” Fisher said.
Barb Bomier, a Red Cliff resident, said the town’s master plan clearly states that town residents don’t want any “extraction or logging” operations in the town.
She also said the mining wouldn’t bring in enough money to the town to justify the liability of having a mining operation within town.
“(Town council members) think the sales tax from these mining operations would help the town, but it’s really not that significant,” Bomier said. “Our future around here is really in recreation and tourism – a mining operation doesn’t really go very well with that.”
Councilman Garrett Scahill voted yes on the first reading because he said he wanted the application to at least make it to the next reading, so town residents could have more time to learn about the proposal and give some feedback.
“I’d like to see more people from our town be more engaged – see what other people are thinking,” Scahill said. “I’m not completely for it; I’m not necessarily against it – there are pros and cons to both sides.”
Those who oppose the project – Bomier, resident Caroline Bradford and Councilwoman Heather Stolz, to name a few – say there shouldn’t be a mining operation along a national scenic byway.
“The department of transportation doesn’t even allow billboards or signs along a scenic byway,” Bradford said.
The proposed site is also at the north end of Camp Hale, which is on the national register of historic places, Bradford said.
Stolz, who voted no Monday, said she sees absolutely no economic benefit to the town. She also pointed out that the town’s master plan, which town residents on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee helped create, opposes any type of resource extraction within the town.
“The master plan is supposed to be the guiding document for the community,” Stolz said.
Scahill said he didn’t have the plan in front of him, but said the town “just logged a bunch of dead (pine beetle killed) trees, so what does that mean.”
Scahill said he plans to look at that plan more and look at the study that Merry should finish in the coming weeks. He said that for now he just hopes to hear from more residents so he can make a decision that supports the town’s wishes. He said the potential revenue the project could bring to the town is appealing, though.
“Red Cliff can use whatever we can get as far as (financial) help,” Scahill said.
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com