Commissioners approve King II Mine land use permit

Commissioners approve King II Mine land use permit
Posted on 06/06/2016
GCC Energy's King II Coal Mine

The La Plata County Board of Commissioners on June 1 unanimously approved GCC Energy’s application for a class 2 land use permit to regulate the company’s King II Coal Mine on County Road 120. The approval concludes nearly six years of discussion and negotiation between the county, GCC and neighbors along County Road 120 to identify strategies for bringing the existing mine and its associated activity into compliance with the county’s land use code while protecting the health, safety and welfare of the mine’s neighborhood.

“We want any change that occurs to be compatible with the neighborhood and not negatively impact the health, safety and welfare of the community,” said Brad Blake, chair of the Board of County Commissioners.

Since 1941, there has been active coal mining in Hay Gulch regulated by several state and federal agencies. In 2006, the mine operation moved from its historic site to the new King II Mine location. At that time, La Plata County determined that it did not have jurisdiction to regulate the mine under its land use code but reconsidered that authority after further legal review and in 2010, notified GCC Energy that it must comply with the code. GCC submitted a land use permit application in 2012. The Board of County Commissioners’ June 1 approval culminated a lengthy and involved process focused on ensuring that the mine’s activities ultimately meet county standards for public health and safety, primarily related to road impacts, noise and dust generated by trucks hauling coal on County Road 120 North.

The approved land use permit contains 28 conditions that GCC must meet in order to be in compliance. These conditions are largely designed to mitigate the impacts of King II Coal Mine activities on Hay Gulch neighbors. Additionally, the permit contains a Road Improvement Agreement that requires GCC to apply a series of solutions including widening, regrading, paving, realigning or in some cases, reconstructing  6.4 miles of County Road 120 over five phases before achieving full hauling volume on the road. The first phase of this work will begin immediately with one-mile of temporary paving in front of the three most impacted residences. While that first improvement phase is underway, coal-hauling traffic on CR 120 North could be limited to 55 loaded trucks per day – a request the Board of Commissioners made and GCC committed to during the two-day permit application hearing.  

“We want to try to give residents some relief until there is pavement,” said Commissioner Gwen Lachelt.

After this immediate mitigation project, the number will increase to 80 trips daily – with no trucks on Sundays – climbing to an eventual maximum of 120 loaded trucks per day after all five improvement phases are complete and accepted by the county.

For a complete list of the county’s conditions of approval, including the Road Improvement Agreement, as well as all related project documents, visit: http://bit.ly/1U0eDQX