A local father and son who want to develop gravel resources on part of a 240-acre property near Crawford have a very different view from their neighbors of what the project would mean for the community.
While Larry and Matt Jensen see the project as a positive benefit to the Crawford area and the county, neighbors oppose the proposed development.
On Dec. 3, the Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to hear a specific development application for the controversial gravel pit proposal.
The application has been submitted by M&L Mining, Matthew and Larry Jensen applicants. Neighbors opposed to the proposed operation cite problems they say will come from dust, noise, traffic, and possible decrease in their rural residential property values.
On Nov. 15, the Delta County Planning Commission voted 3-1 in favor of forwarding the application on to the county commissioners for consideration. Previously, on Oct. 23, the Crawford Area Planning Committee had recommended the application be forwarded to the planning commission, and the APC attached nine recommended conditions for mitigating some of the neighbors' concerns.
The Jensens' application states that the gravel mining will be run in conjunction with a ranching operation. There would be mining, crushing and screening operations with dump trucks and 18-wheelers accessing the site via Highway 92.
The location is one-half mile south of Highway 92, and three-quarters of a mile west of the town of Crawford, according to the Delta County Planning Department.
An 80-acre tract of the 240 acres that Matt Jensen has purchased contains gravel resources, explained Larry Jensen.
Their application says mining would begin at the center of the 80 acres and radiate outward. The pit would have hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Jensens have agreed to mitigate noise concerns by operating a crusher in twice-yearly sessions lasting six-weeks each. They have also agreed to employ the kind of dust mitigation practices that have been approved at another private gravel pit in the county.
The Jensens' idea for developing the gravel was to provide an upland, non-riparian source for gravel in the Crawford area that would save local users transportation costs. "(Matt) wants to develop this resource as a betterment to the community. He does not take lightly the neighbors' concerns," Larry said, adding, "All of the houses around here had to have aggregate for their construction."
Larry Jensen sees their gravel plans as an asset to the county's agriculture and lifestyle and the Master Plan goal of preserving agriculture. Sustainable agriculture has to have something to sustain it, he explained.
"We have significant holdings that contribute to our neighbors' open space enjoyment. If anyone has ideas of how to help us pay for it, we would be interested in working with them if they would give us their ideas."
But neighbors see things differently. Project opponent Larry Ribnick is a member of the Grand View Homeowners Association and told the DCI that he is speaking for the majority of his neighbors. Their subdivision is located "directly adjacent" to the proposed gravel development, he said.
He sees the issue of airborne dust as a serious one. "There is a misconception about 'normal dust,' " he told the DCI. "Crushed gravel has a high crystallized silica content which can cause silicosis. Workers in gravel pits can contact it. Gravel dust can also affect people who are susceptible because of asthma or other COPD conditions."
\Ribnick also cites the county's Master Plan as support for neighbors' opposition. "This would be an industrial application of land in a rural, residential, and agricultural area," he explained.
He thinks a gravel pit use is incompatible, and that the county Master Plan requires existing property uses and rights be given preference in those instances.
Bob Pennetta is a neighbor of Ribnick's. He told the DCI that a large area surrounding the proposed gravel pit is already in rural residential and ag uses. He called the plan "a strip mine next to a large, rural residential community." Pennetta also objects to a gravel operation less than a mile from the Town of Crawford.
"The county commissioners should be concerned about the health and welfare of the people who live here above all else," Pennetta said.
Kevin and Eugenia Bone have stated their opposition to the Jensens' proposal because it will "undoubtedly cause a host of problems, including property devaluation, for us, and the town of Crawford."
Rob Johnson, a neighbor of the proposed gravel operation, told the DCI that he collected 113 signatures from Crawford area residents who are "vehemently opposed" to the gravel plans. He was out of town for the October APC meeting and learned of it only upon returning. He said he presented his petition at the county planning commission. He expressed "amazement" at how a proposal with such strong opposition could get endorsements from the APC and planning commission.
"This will negatively affect wildlife, livestock, our water, and the mental, emotional and physical health of people," he said. "This introduces a commercial enterprise in the middle of an area that has been rural and agricultural since the 1880s. I could have gotten more signatures on the petition. How many people have to say 'No'?"
Others have gone on record at either the Crawford APC meeting or the Delta County Planning Commission meeting with opposing views of the application citing many of the same development and quality of life issues. They include Brad Rugh, Ellen Goldstein, Tony Keller, Leslie Jackson and Mary Dufon.blog comments powered by Disqus