As reported in the Nov. 7 Herald Democrat, on Oct. 28 the Lake County Planning Commission voted 3-1 not to approve a conditional use permit for a gravel, concrete and asphalt operation on the southeast side of the Arkansas river along Colorado 91 that would extend approximately from Birdseye Gulch south to Buckeye Estates, and would operate for the next quarter of a century or longer. As one of many nearby residents who attended that meeting and spoke against the application, I was pleased not only with the Commission’s vote, but with the immediate response from a representative of Schofield Excavation that the company was “withdrawing its application.”

Imagine my surprise, then, when upon returning from an out-of-state trip on Nov. 11 I read that Schofield had reapplied for the CUP just days later. I strongly oppose this proposed project for many reasons, and believe that as members of the Leadville community become aware of the facts, they will also.

The proposed “Birdseye Pit” is in conflict with several of the Planning Commission’s published approval criteria, including but not limited to the following:

First, proposed CUPs should not “be detrimental to the public health, safety or welfare of county residents or cause hardship for neighboring persons.” As one of the nearest residents, and one who would literally have to look out our front window at a gravel operation, and would have to share our Colorado 91 access with gravel, concrete, and asphalt trucks for the remainder of our lives, my family and I would surely be harmed by this project. In addition to having to deal with asphalt odor and noise (there is no way to silence gravel being dumped into steel truck beds, or the sound of trucks entering and leaving the pit less than one-quarter mile from our house), we would likely suffer a significant decline in our property value. The same would be true for many other nearby residents.

Second, the proposed conditional use must be “consistent with and in harmony with neighboring land uses and future intended land uses in the area.” Even a casual observer traveling on Colorado 91 north of Leadville will recognize that the presence of a gravel, concrete, and asphalt operation next to the beautiful wetlands adjacent to the Arkansas River clearly does not meet this criteria.

And finally, the proposed conditional use “will not result in traffic congestion or hazards to vehicular or pedestrian traffic.” Space does not permit an adequate response to this, but suffice it to say that anyone who regularly drives Colorado 91 north of Leadville will attest that 40 or more gravel and concrete and asphalt trucks (likely a low estimate) entering and exiting the highway daily at Birdseye Gulch will present significant hazards.

A second public hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m. I urge community members who do not want to see this project come to fruition attend this meeting and speak out against the proposed project.

Dick McClain

Lake County

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