County Planning Commission Approves GP Special Use Permit




The Prowers County Planning Commission approved an amended Special Use Permit request from Karl Nyquist and Bill Grasmick of GP Aggregates and GP Irrigated, LLC-West Farm Pit, operating on County Road HH.5, west of and parallel to, the Burlington Northern railroad tracks east of Lamar. The lands are zoned as Irrigated Agricultural (A-1) and in a Floodplain (F-1) district.

BNSF Tracks and GP Pit

The permit, approved during the Commissioner’s monthly meeting by Richard Widener, Chad Hart and Clifford Boxley, August 21st, includes additional area for a Mineral Extraction and Processing Facility, the addition of an overland conveyor system and road crossing culvert, equipment, materials, and storage facility including petroleum, steel, gravel, construction, agricultural, wind energy and lumber products, etc., including inbound and outbound trans-loading of project cargo, and the operation of the gravel pit reservoirs.

Piles of Gravel Awaiting Transfer to Train Cars

The gravel pit has been operating for several years, but after land adjacent to the railroad tracks just east of the crossing was no longer used as a gathering point for wind turbine parts, that stretch of property became a holding area for dozens of large piles of gravel which is loaded onto waiting railroad cars. The gravel is hauled by a series of semi-trucks using CR HH.5 to get to that area from the gravel pit.  The pit owners say the underground conveyer will speed the process and reduce operating costs.  It should also benefit the local residents by cutting back on noise, dust and traffic.

Several residents, in answer to their questions, were told that the impact on their water service would be minimal and they would be kept informed of the various construction stages. New water lines would be installed along with the culvert which will span the road.  One resident was told the issue of rain water run-off onto his property from the way the road was graded would also be looked into.  Another concern was the speed exhibited by the semis, plus some drivers are using the eastern route to access the pit when they have been asked to approach from the west.

One other issue may not be so easily resolved. When asked about the train cars spanning the road crossing for lengths of time, County Commissioner, Ron Cook, replied that his office has spoken with the BNSF railroad several times, but has not had any indication they can address the problem.  “Is there a chance the trail can be separated at the crossing?” asked one resident.  The logistics would suggest not, as dozens of gravel cars would have to be periodically separated and moved ahead on the rails for loading.  The project is expected to take about three months, although there was no specific start date mentioned in the permit hearing.  Some final paperwork between the county and pit operators needs to be reviewed and signed off on.

The Planning Commission set September 25th at 8am as a public hearing date for a special use permit from Valerie Reifschneider who wants to construct and operate a greenhouse on her property on County Road RR.  The greenhouse would measure 26 by 48 feet and would be used to grow vegetables and fruits for sale.  The Board registered a slight amount of surprise at learning of the need for a public hearing as the greenhouse would be built on what is already farmland.  The permit is required due to the commercial nature of the operation.

Representatives of Colorado Green Holdings, LLC, requested a Special Use Permit to remove eight wind turbines from the original construction site  about 20 miles south of Lamar.  108 turbines were built in 2003, the first of three phases of construction which extended into Bent County.  Their public hearing will also be on the 25th of September.

Larger blades are being added to some turbines which will increase the amount of power being generated, but as the transmission line can accommodate only so many megawatts, the number of turbines being used is being reduced. The entire turbine shaft and tower will come down on each of the eight, but the pad mount transformer will remain.  It’s an integral part of the complex’s power line system.  The upgraded equipment should extend the life of the turbines by another 15-20 years.  The property agreement calls for all the land to be returned to its natural state when all the turbines are removed.

Under New Business, the Planning Commission Board set a public hearing on Arkansas River Farms 1041 for Wednesday, September 4th at 6pm at the Lamar Senior Citizen Center.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesCountyFeaturedHealthPublic Safety

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