RMI appeals decision in case against Garfield County over quarry jurisdiction dispute

Rocky Mountain Industrials limestone quarry, viewed from Transfer Trail Road north of Glenwood Springs.
John Stroud / Post Independent File

Rocky Mountain Industrials, the operators of the limestone quarry on the Transfer Trail north of Glenwood Springs, recently appealed a decision of a district court siding on the Garfield County side in the trial of the company for alleged violation of the permit in the quarry.

A formal notice of appeal was filed with the Colorado Court of Appeal on August 12 by the Garfield & Hecht law firm of Glenwood Springs, on behalf of RMI.

On June 26, Garfield County District Judge Anne K. Norrdin dismissed the 2019 lawsuit filed against the county by the Denver-based mining company.

The lawsuit claims the Garfield County government does not have the power to regulate the quarry as it sits on federal land and also operates under a lease and permit from the US Bureau of Land Management- United.

The court allowed Garfield County’s summary judgment motion in his favor with the June ruling. In January, the court upheld three of the county’s citations for issuing an RMI violation notice related to career operations.

Norrdin said in its June 26 decision that RMI must allege a tangible and compelling error in judgment in order to successfully file an appeal.

In the appeal, RMI reiterates its claim that no evidentiary hearing was held by the county before issuing its permit violation notice regarding such things as hours of operation and operation outside restrictions. seasonal allowed.

“As the trial court found, there is not enough evidence on the record that the (County Commissioners Council) had at the time it made its quasi-judicial decision to support some of the alleged violations. “, according to the call.

“… Other alleged violations are invalid because they are intended to prohibit activities expressly authorized by the United States Bureau of Land Management and Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety,” RMI said in the appeal. “Thus, (notices of violations) are preempted by federal and state law.”

RMI has operated for several years on approximately 20 leased acres near Transfer Trail under a county permit that limits operations to certain times of the year and daily hours. The permits also limited mining to certain materials.

Garfield County officials discovered in May 2019 that operators were operating outside of those permit allocations.

In 2018, RMI began seeking BLM approval to significantly expand its operations to over 320 acres and increase trucking from about 20 truck loads per day to 500 daily loads between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to and from a new rail load proposed. along Devereux Road.

This proposal is still under consideration by the BLM and should go through a full environmental impact assessment process before a decision is made. The BLM is also conducting a separate environmental assessment to determine the impacts of RMI’s plan to drill five groundwater monitoring wells in the mine expansion area.

The Glenwood Springs Citizens’ Alliance, which opposes career expansion, filed the violation complaint with the county in November 2018. County commissioners asked staff to investigate and issued the formal notice of violation on May 13, 2019. RMI then sued the county claiming improper career jurisdiction.

The Citizens’ Alliance, in an Aug. 13 newsletter update to supporters, said the fight to operate the quarry and the proposed expansion was “far from over.”

“We are also working to hold RMI and the United States Bureau of Land Management accountable for aspects of current career operations that violate county and federal permits,” said Jeff Peterson, president of the Citizens’ Alliance, in the statement. up to date.

In its lawsuit against the county, RMI served the Citizens Alliance with a subpoena requesting its written communications with the BLM, Garfield County and the City of Glenwood Springs, as well as lists of its donors and supporters. . The Citizens’ Alliance has hired legal counsel to successfully prevent disclosure of its records, Peterson said.

In addition to RMI’s lawsuit against the county, the Citizens’ Alliance separately sued the BLM in U.S. District Court, accusing the agency of failing to properly regulate current mining activity at RMI’s limestone quarry. The Citizens’ Alliance says certain activities in progress at the mine are not permitted under RMI’s federal mining license.

Outside of its Garfield County operations, RMI appears to be moving forward with the development of its 620-acre Rocky Mountain rail park in Adams County outside of Denver, according to the Citizens’ Alliance.

“RMI obtained final Adams County development approvals in September 2020 and secured $ 77.3 million in funding in March and April 2021,” the Citizens’ Alliance reported in its August 13 update. , claiming that RMI intends to use 120 acres as eastern rail cargo for the limestone it plans to mine at Glenwood Springs.

Senior Journalist / Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected]

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