Controversial gravel pit still a concern for LaPorte residents

Following a rowdy neighborhood meeting on March 7, Loveland Ready-Mix Concrete has made minimal progress in convincing LaPorte residents that the company’s proposed gravel pit and concrete batch plant will do more good than harm.

The complex, which is proposed to be built on 123 acres along Larimer County Road 54G, half a mile west of Taft Hill Road, would serve as Loveland Ready-Mix Concrete’s fourth dispatch site.

The March meeting consisted of a presentation by Loveland Ready-Mix Co-owner Stephanie Fancher-English, followed by questions and comments from the many LaPorte residents in attendance. Most of the comments had to do with residents’ concerns about traffic, community health and the plant’s hours of operation.

Fancher-English and other Loveland Ready-Mix employees have made attempts to address these concerns, but citizens are still wary of the plan.

“My biggest concern is that it’s just too close to town,” said Ruth Wallick, resident of LaPorte. “It’s right here; it’s right next to houses. And the winds off of this thing are going to carry over into the Farview community, and that’s just going to be hell for those people. It’s just not a good fit for our community.”

Among other concerns, Wallick touched on noise, pollution and traffic that will be created on CR 54G from the estimated 316 additional trips to and from the site per day.

“They built the LaPorte bypass to get the heavy traffic out of LaPorte, and now they’re gonna do something that will bring it back in,” she said.

Fancher-English said she understands these concerns, and the company has been working to address them.

“In Loveland, we have a school that’s within 1,800 feet of our plant; we’ve got farmers and neighborhoods around it and we’re trying to show that it’s not a problem,” she said. “In this instance (proposed LaPorte plant), we said, ‘Let’s move that batch plant to the back of the property and as far away from everybody as we can possibly get.’ With the homes, we’re close to half a mile away from any of the neighbors with that batch plant.”

Other residents brought up health concerns they believe will be caused by the dust from gravel mining operations. Fancher-English said the dust will be natural and there are no chemicals in it that would harm residents from a health standpoint. She compared it to the dust farmers create when they plow their land.

By following dust-control guidelines that include watering and revegetating the land, and by mining in 10-acre increments, Loveland Ready-Mix believes it can limit any potential dust problem.

Residents still are not sold.

According to Wallick, one resident of the Farview community who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is concerned that the dust from the plant could threaten her life, especially on days where the wind is particularly troublesome.

The next step for Loveland Ready-Mix is to submit a public hearing application, which county planner Rob Helmick says could take three to four months. Once it’s submitted, Helmick will decide if the application meets the review criteria and offer a recommendation to the planning commission.

While they are between steps in the process, Loveland Ready-Mix representatives said will do all they can to engage with residents and listen to their concerns personally.

“We will reply to each and every email, each and every address that we have and continue to try to engage with whoever would like to come to our plant and see what we are doing,” Fancher-English said. “We are seeing groups that are engaging with us and listening and asking questions, but there is still a group out there that doesn’t really want us there at all.”

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