From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 4 - April 25, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

McMurrys granted new gravel pit

by Cat Urbigkit

McMurrys granted new gravel pit

Residents of the Wild Horse Subdivision located south of Boulder turned out for Fridayís Sublette County Commission meeting to voice opposition to a proposed gravel pit to be located just across the New Fork River.

M&Nís application for a conditional-use permit to operate a gravel pit with a crusher on 10 acres of agricultural land just off Paradise Road was subject to much discussion. M&N co-owner Vic McMurry explained that although his company has operated a gravel pit just south of Highway 351 near the junction with Paradise Road, the material on that 10-acre site has now been exhausted and the pit recently reclaimed. McMurry-owned land adjacent to the pit would be a suitable gravel source, but state regulations require two growing seasons to pass for reclamation to be completed. Regulations also prohibit opening another pit on the adjacent land until the reclamation of the first pit is completed.

M&N proposed to move to a parcel of land owned by M&N co-owner Mick McMurry located about three miles north of Hwy 351 and open a pit on that location. The pit would be operated from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday, with an estimated average of 15 round trips per day by trucks hauling material to the Pinedale Anticline and Jonah natural gas fields.

Residents across the river raised concerns about the noise and dust associated with having a gravel pit located so close to a residential area. The permit application came to the county commission last week after a two-to-one vote recommending approval from the planning and zoning commission.

Subdivision resident Pete Kennedy spoke against approval of the permit: "He has more than 100 acres there and he has chosen to locate his gravel pit in the corner nearest me, nearest the Wild Horse Subdivision ... he has almost intentionally gone out of his way to pick a pit location as objectionable to the residential area as possible."

Kennedy said the pit will generate "incredible noise" and reduce property values. He requested that if the pit is approved, the 8-5 hours and weekday limitations "should be an absolute, not a goal," and the 15 trips per day should be a limit, not an average.

Property owner Bill Schell said he has lived in the subdivision for more than 20 years and moved there to get away from it all.

"Itís not what we moved out there to have," Schell said.

Subdivision property owners Fred and Rose Sanchez spoke against the application as well, and presented a petition in opposition to granting the permit.

Commissioner Gordon Johnston said he sympathized with the residential area property owners, saying he would hate to have a gravel pit so close to his residence. Johnston asked what options M&N would have if the application were denied.

McMurry said, "It would have a serious impact on our company," and explained that M&N is currently buying gravel from competitors while awaiting a new pit.

Kennedy said M&N has the financial resources to purchase land elsewhere for a gravel pit.

After much discussion, with McMurry stating M&Nís intent is to eventually open a pit near Highway 351 again, Johnston made a motion to grant the conditional-use permit, with specified conditions for the hours of operations, for a two-year period instead of the typical five-year term. Commissioner Betty Fear said the county used to grant two-year pit permits, but changed to five-year terms a few years ago. Fear said she would hate to see the county take a step backwards on this and thus, refused to second Johnstonís motion.

"So we are at an impasse," Fear said.

Commission Chairman Bill Cramer replied: "You two are, but Iím not," and seconded Johnstonís motion.

In the end, all three commissioners voted to grant M&N the two-year permit, with the condition that excavation, crushing and hauling operations be limited to 8-5 on weekdays.

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