Judge denies neighbors’ motion to dismantle asphalt plant in Weld

GREELEY — A judge on Monday ruled against a group of neighbors who banded together to try and stop the opening of an asphalt plant near the intersection of Weld County Road 13 and U.S. Highway 34, built recently by Martin Marietta Materials Inc.

Weld County District Court Judge Todd Taylor denied a motion from the group of individuals and businesses near the site to have the $70 million project dismantled and the 133-acre site returned to its original condition — farmland.

The site is near the Indianhead Estates residential subdivision a half-mile south of U.S. 34 in unincorporated Weld County, near the Weld-Larimer county line. Martin Marietta is leasing the land from its owner, Gerrard Investments LLC.

Judge Taylor also granted a motion by Martin Marietta that returns the case to the Weld County Board of County Commissioners, who first approved the project by a 5-0 vote in 2013, to see if Martin Marietta has met deficiencies defined by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The commissioners’ vote 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.

The neighborhood group has been trying to stop the project ever since its inception in 2015. The group includes Motherlove Herbal Co., Indianhead West Homeowners Association Inc., Rockin S Ranch LLC, John Cummings, David Kisker,  Gary Oplinger, Wolfgang Dirks and James Piraino.

The Weld District Court initially ruled in favor of the county and Martin Marietta in January 2017, but that ruling was overturned by the Colorado Court of Appeals in November 2017.  After that ruling, Martin Marietta and the neighborhood group filed the separate motions that Judge Taylor ruled on June 4.

David Hagerman, regional vice president of Raleigh, N.C.-based Martin Marietta (NYSE: MLM), said in a prepared statement that the company has “worked hard to build a state-of-the art facility that is compatible with the community. After an initial $20 million investment in site infrastructure, the company executed an additional $50 million in on- and off-site improvements to minimize impacts to surrounding neighbors.”

Martin Marietta said the plant, which is ready to operate, was developed to replace the diminishing supply of construction aggregates available in Northern Colorado. The plant will provide construction materials needed for infrastructure, roads, schools, hospitals, homes, farms and commercial and industrial facilities in the region. Hagerman said the economic growth of the region is dependent on the availability of cost-effective building materials.