At the close of a long and impassioned hearing at the Larimer County Courthouse on Monday, November 19, Larimer County Commissioners Steve Johnson, Tom Donnelly and interim commissioner Sean Dougherty all agreed. Loveland Ready Mix had met all the technical requirements, including agreement to 43 added conditions, to their request for a special review allowing them to commence mining operations at the Knox Gravel Pit in LaPorte. LRM owns 123 acres of gravel-rich land adjacent to the town of LaPorte and close to the Poudre River.
Yet, despite agreeing with the other commissioners that LRM had met all the technical requirements, Larimer County Commission chairman Steve Johnson voted to deny the special review.
“I had to ask myself if I would want to live in LaPorte with the mine there,” he said. He concluded that not enough evidence had been provided for him to see the project as compatible with the existing community. He voted no. The special review request passed 2-1. Senior Larimer County Planner Rob Helmick said that operations could begin as early as the summer of 2019.
Thus ended a nearly two-year all-out effort by the citizens of LaPorte to prevent a mining operation scheduled to last as long as 12 years. Over and over, in hearings, on signs, in speeches, in meetings, on Facebook and in signing petitions, the community came together to preserve the rural nature of their community. They never gave up, appearing in force on Monday night although the handwriting was on the wall. The fact that the Larimer County Planning Commission had earlier voted in favor of LRM’s request, could not dampen their hopes to see the review defeated by the Larimer County Commissioners who had the final word.
Because of the citizens’ continuing efforts, LRM has agreed to limit noise levels, truck traffic, hours of operation and to monitor air quality and ground water levels. They will reclaim mined land as they complete mining in an area and have agreed to the construction of berms and the planting of trees, grasses and bushes on the land.
It was after 10:30 p.m. when the final voice vote was taken. Some of the audience had gone home. Those who remained left their seats and departed quietly. LRM owners Stephanie Fancher-English and Brad Fancher were quiet also, putting their heads together in a small group at the front of the room, relieved, at the end of a long road, to know that their mining operations will become a reality.