County attorney clarifies planning commission’s role, responsibility in gravel pit permitting process

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Archuleta County Attorney’s office

On Feb. 23, the Archuleta County Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing on an application for a Conditional Use Permit for a Major Sand and Gravel project to include a large area of the property to supply road base and construction materials for the Archuleta County market. In addition, the application requests a permit to haul the material offsite.

Archuleta County officials do not have the authority to approve or deny the opening and operation of a gravel pit. Last year, the applicant, C&J Gravel, submitted an application to the State of Colorado, Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety for the operation of a gravel pit on Oakbrush Hill at Dutton Ranch. It is the State’s responsibility to approve the opening and operation of a gravel pit by reviewing possible impacts to groundwater quality, wildlife, revegetation, and other categories as stipulated in the Mineral Rules and Regulations for the Extraction of Construction Materials. Any comments regarding these subjects should be provided to the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. The state decision regarding this application is currently scheduled to be completed no later than April 29.  

The Archuleta County Planning Commission’s role in reviewing the permit application is to ensure that the application complies with the Archuleta County Land Use Regulations.  Section 9.1.1 of the County Land Use Regulations state that “It is the intent of Archuleta County to ensure that sand, soil and gravel are available to the public and that mining and related uses for sand, soil and gravel occur without compromising the goals and objectives of the Archuleta County Land Use Code. It is the intent of Archuleta County to assure that these requirements are addressed without duplication of, or contradiction with, pertinent state or federal requirements for such mining.”   The planning commission does not have the authority to consider any other issues related to a gravel pit other than what is listed in the Land Use Regulations, a copy of which can be found at www.archuletacounty.org/247/Land-Use-Regulations.

It is not the planning commission’s role to approve or deny the permit itself. The commission will make a recommendation whether to approve or deny the Conditional Use Permit application with or without certain conditions, to the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC), who will hold a public hearing on this application on March 1. At that hearing, the BoCC will hear the recommendation of the planning commission, along with any of their recommended findings and conditions and then vote to approve, approve with conditions or deny the application.  

Public comment will be accepted via email, in person, or through Zoom at the Feb. 23 planning commission meeting. The length of time for public comment and the amount of time each person will be given to provide his or her comment is at the discretion of the chairman of the planning commission.  

Public comment will be accepted via email or in person at the March 1 BoCC meeting.  The length of time for public comment and the amount of time each person will be given to provide his or her comment is at the discretion of the chairman of the BoCC.

The public is highly encouraged to submit their public comments via email to the Planning Commission, c/o PFlowers@ArchuletaCounty.org, and/or to the BoCC at Commissioners@ArchuletaCounty.org.