At its regular meeting Thursday, the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee heard from several residents who are concerned about CEMEX’s desire to continue mining in the area.
CEMEX, a global building materials company, applied to the Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting Department on May 2 for a special-use permit to continue mining at the Dowe Flats property east of Lyons and north of Colo. 66 for 15 years until Dec. 31, 2037.
Tony Lewis, who serves on the Advisory Committee called the application process thus far a “binary decision.”
“It feels a little bit like blackmail quite honestly to me,” Lewis said. “I’m not a big fan of ‘take this deal or leave it.’ I’m a much bigger fan of working through a deal and creating a deal collectively.”
Unless extended, CEMEX’s rock mining permit will expire later this year.
“We have a plant that’s producing the largest amount of emissions in Boulder County and there’s been no discussion about ramping that down over a 15-year period or a 10-year period or a five-year period,” Lewis said.
As part of its proposal, CEMEX says it will shutter its cement plant south of Colo. 66 at the same time its mining permit expires in 2037, should it be extended. Without that agreement in place, county officials have maintained that CEMEX could continue to operate the plant indefinitely even after its rock mining permit expired.
If it were to grant CEMEX’s request, the county would also have the option to purchase additional land for open space at a reduced cost.
Sarah Lorang, who lives next door to the CEMEX cement plant, questioned the company’s application, namely its language, which she believed was too vague.
Lorang was concerned that CEMEX may cease its cement-plant operations but that the plant would still be used for industrial purposes just by a different company.
“The proposal, the way it’s worded, leaves the door wide open” Lorang said. “How does the county reconcile putting the open space acquisition ahead of the county’s climate goals? Because, it seems like that didn’t enter into this negotiation.”
The Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee advises the Boulder County Planning Commission and Boulder County Board of County Commissioners on items related to open space properties such as land acquisition and management.
At the earliest, CEMEX’s application could go before the Planning Commission on July 20 but an official date has not yet been scheduled. After the Planning Commission’s review and recommendation, the application will then make its way to the Board of County Commissioners for a final decision.
County staff did not request any formal action be taken related to CEMEX’s application by the Advisory Committee but instead utilized Thursday’s meeting for informational purposes only.
Members of the Advisory Committee asked a few questions but, aside from Lewis, did not offer many comments of their own about the pending application.
“This is the major open space decision that will be made for this decade and the next,” Longmont resident Ron Stewart said. “It would just be a tragedy, really, if this land weren’t preserved as open space.”
Boulder Daily Camera
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