Right to disagree

Commission examines conflicting property rights

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Everyone in the room agreed government should honor private property rights.

But, the Moffat County Commission had to weigh how far someone's rights extend onto a neighbor's property at its meeting Tuesday.

Two Moffat County men had applied for a conditional use permit to open a gravel mine on property one of them owns south of Craig. The mine would be open four years and fund a residential subdivision project on the same property.

A total of five other property owners and residents from the area told the Commission such a development would burden their property values and their daily well-being by threatening their air quality, water supply and rural lifestyle.

How does that apply to their property rights, they asked?

In the end, the Commission approved the gravel mine's use permit with a 2-1 vote, but applied six conditions that commissioners Tom Gray and Tom Mathers said would mitigate the mine's negative impacts on neighbors.

"Believe me," Gray said, "I understand where everyone is coming from. We're weighing private property rights on both sides."

The commission did not make its decision quickly.

Larry Lyster and his business partner, Steve Baker, 3B Enterprises owner, have appeared before the commission at each of its last three meetings.

In all cases they were applying for a conditional use permit to open a gravel mine on Lyster's property, about 360 acres east of the Moffat County Regional Airport, south of state Highway 394.

In each prior meeting, the commission tabled approval until Lyster and Baker created specific plans that met the commission' conditions.

At Tuesday's meeting, Lyster and Baker agreed to limit operations to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

They also agreed to build a 1,000-feet long, 11-feet high fence along Highway 394 to keep noise down and keep the mine hidden from view.

As well, the gravel pit only can operate for up to four years. Lyster and Baker must reclaim land as they dig new pits and all land must be reclaimed by December 2012.

Questions remained, however, as opposing residents said the mine could deplete local water wells and felt the fence would not keep noise down or people from seeing it.

Commissioner Saed Tayyara said he voted against the use permit because the project did not address adequately 10 requirements outlined in county planning regulations.

"I don't believe, even though there's been a compromise," Tayyara said, "I'm still not convinced it meets all" requirements for approval. "In my judgment, four have not been met."

Among those were provisions protecting established developments from pollution, noise and loss of value because of unattractive developments.

Gray said he felt differently. As part of the conditions on the use permit, the mine must have air pollution and well permits from the state, which will regulate what the mine owners must do to mitigate those factors.

Also, there comes a point when some concerns, though valid, are not reasonable against another property owners' rights, he said.

"To me, saying (the mine) is two miles away from my house, and that's unsightly, that's unreasonable to me," Gray said. "So everyone can have their rights preserved, we have to make sure there's reasonableness" in each claim.

One opposing resident in attendance, Shane Ridnour, 32, said after the commission's decision he's not sure where to go from here, but he wants to be part of the state's permitting process.

"I would like to somehow be notified what's going to happen," Ridnour said. "On this whole deal, there's been very little public notice."

He also said it was a shame the commission could not see signed petitions left at Tin Cup Grill and the Golden Cavvy because an unknown man allegedly had taken them either Monday or Tuesday.

Tin Cup Manager Corenia Wells said she had put Ridnour's petition by the restaurant's cash register, and as of a few days ago, there were about 15 signatures. She couldn't say what had happened to the petition other than it disappeared.

Ridnour lamented any kind of industry moving onto Highway 394.

"Anybody that goes around here and drives or walks their dogs, they know it's the prettiest place around here," he said. "Why would you make it uglier with a bunch of houses and a gravel pit?

"Our American heritage of farmers and ranchers is being sold out because money talks. The planning and zoning regulations in this county are too wide open to allow this to happen."

Comments

taxslave 6 years, 8 months ago

Vote Grey and Mathers out. There job is to represent those who elected them, plain and simple. Saad has consistantly stood with the people and against any tax increase.

The other two belong in Washington.

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Sage_Sam 6 years, 8 months ago

The folks out off HWY 394 should just be happy that the County didnt lease out there land from under them for oil and gas.

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Globe 6 years, 8 months ago

Taxslave - check your facts, Saed was the only one to back both the school and the hospital initiative openly. Sage - what on earth are you talking about?

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