Martin Marietta: Weld asphalt plant a go despite lawsuit

GREELEY — Despite a lawsuit filed last month by eight residents and businesses near the Weld-Larimer county line, Martin Marietta Materials Inc. says it is going ahead with plans to build a $20 million asphalt plant near U.S. Highway 34 west of Greeley.

The Weld County Planning Commission had voted 4-3 in July to recommend that the proposal be denied, but were overruled by a unanimous vote of Weld County Commissioners after a lengthy public hearing on Aug. 12. The commissioners issued a “Resolution and Hearing Certificate for Use by Special Review” permit on Sept. 27, which included 42 development standards and more than 30 conditions of approval, including hours of operation, lighting, landscaping, air quality, noise, road maintenance, haul routes and traffic improvements.

“The Weld County commissioners’ approval was contingent upon a considerable number of modifications to our project and strict conditions that will be protective of the public and the environment,” said David Hagerman, regional vice president of Raleigh, N.C.-based Martin Marietta (NYSE: MLM), in a media statement issued Monday. “These are very costly modifications to our project, but they will make this site even more compatible with our neighbors, and we believe that it is money well spent.”

Martin Marietta wants to build the facility on a 133-acre site near the Indianhead Estates residential subdivision a half-mile south of U.S. 34 in unincorporated Weld County, near the Weld-Larimer county line. It plans to lease the property from its owner, Gerrard Investments LLC.

Rock from a quarry in Wyoming would be brought to the plant by the Union Pacific Railroad and unloaded from a rail spur.

“While sand is in ample supply in Northern Colorado, the supply of coarse aggregate product (rock) in the area is almost depleted,” the Martin Marietta statement said. “The coarse aggregate product is needed to make concrete and asphalt, construction products that are essential to meet the area’s needs for roads and construction of businesses and homes.

“The Martin Marietta Highway 34 site is uniquely located in close proximity to rail and major highways while being centrally located within one of the fastest-growing commercial areas in the State.  In addition, it was determined that traffic generated from the facility will have the lowest impact on county roads and residents compared to other potential sites.”

The company statement noted that Weld commissioners had deemed the plan “consistent with the County’s Land Use Code and the agricultural zoning district and that it will be compatible with surrounding land uses and future land development. The resolution also stated that ‘the applicant has demonstrated a diligent effort to conserve prime agricultural land in the locational decision for the proposed use. The design standards, operation standards, conditions of approval, and development standards ensure that there are adequate provisions for the protection of health, safety, and welfare of inhabitants of the neighborhood and county.”

The commissioners’ resolution ran counter to the determination of the Weld planning commission, which had found the project to be incompatible with nearby residential and agricultural uses. Planning officials from Greeley, Johnstown and Windsor also had said the facility didn’t conform to long-range plans for the U.S. 34 corridor.

Property owners in the area have been working to stop the plan since learning of it early this year. Their appeal, filed in District Court in September, claims that the plant “violates existing zoning laws, fails to protect the health and safety of surrounding residents, and ignores the community’s near-universal opposition,” according to a media release. Neighbors also have cited concerns about pollution, traffic and lowered property values.

The CLR-34 Neighborhoods Association is soliciting donations on its website to help the eight litigants with their legal fees.