Transit Mix remounts quarry proposal

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Transit Mix's Jerry Schnabel (left) and Mac Shafer in a 2012 photo taken at a quarry just west of the city. - BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Brienne Boortz
  • Transit Mix's Jerry Schnabel (left) and Mac Shafer in a 2012 photo taken at a quarry just west of the city.
Transit Mix Concrete Co. is taking another run at gaining approval of a quarry operation on Hitch Rack Ranch.

It's last application was denied about a year ago by the state's Mined Land Reclamation Board after neighbors argued that mining activities could potentially block access to their homes, damage water wells, impact wildlife and affect shifting soils, among other problems. The peaceful neighborhood has been there far longer than any plans for a quarry, and neighbors say it's not fair to transform their area with such a large-scale operation.

But now, Transit Mix vows to close four other operations if it gets a permit for the new site, and six of nine Colorado Springs City Council members say they support it. That support was voiced during private conversations with Transit Mix, not a public meeting, Councilor Andy Pico tells the Indy. Those in support include Pico, Tom Strand, Merv Bennett, Don Knight, David Geislinger, and President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler.

Council approval isn't required, but as Transit Mix notes in the news release, it indicates support for the community benefits of its proposal. Transmit Mix will need the mining board's OK, as well as a permit from El Paso County.

Here's the company's news release:
Transit Mix Concrete Company is seeking permits to open an aggregate quarry on the privately owned Hitch Rack Ranch in southwestern El Paso County. After its application to the state’s Mined Land Reclamation Board was denied in October 2016 by a vote of 3-2 (with one member recused and another absent), Transit Mix made substantial modifications to its proposal and today is reapplying. In addition to a permit from the Mined Land Reclamation Board, Transit Mix will also need a Special Use Permit from the El Paso Board of County Commissioners before beginning quarry operations.

Today, Transit Mix, through its president Jerald Schnabel, publicly pledged to the greater Colorado Springs community a 4-for-1 deal if Transit Mix receives the permits necessary to open a quarry on Hitch Rack Ranch. Also today, 6 Colorado Springs councilmembers announced their public support for Transit Mix’s application.

If permitted to open a quarry on the privately owned Hitch Rack Ranch, Transit Mix pledges the closure of the Pikeview Quarry, Black Canyon Quarry, Costilla Batch Plant, and N. Nevada Batch Plant.

Transit Mix will end quarry operations and accelerate the reclamation of the Pikeview Quarry.
Transit Mix will repurpose the Pikeview Quarry land for public use. Discussions are underway.
Transit Mix will end quarry operations and accelerate the reclamation of the Black Canyon Quarry.
Transit Mix will repurpose the Black Canyon Quarry land for public use. Discussions are underway.
Transit Mix will close its batch plant on N. Nevada Ave, which is served by Pikeview and Black Canyon quarries, and move its operations elsewhere.
Transit Mix will close its batch plant on Costilla St. downtown, which is served by Pikeview and Black Canyon quarries, and move its operations elsewhere.

The benefits of these actions are major and multiple.

Closing and reclaiming Pikeview in the near term, 10-20 years ahead of schedule, will allow the reclamation of Pikeview to coincide with the natural revegetation of the Waldo Canyon burn scar.
Closing the batch plant on Costilla St. will dovetail with the Shooks Run Master Plan, which the Colorado Springs City Council recently approved.
Closing the batch plant on Costilla St. will free up a property in which multiple developers have expressed interest.
Closing the batch plant on N. Nevada Ave. will create breathing space for the new National Cybersecurity Center.
Closing the Costilla and N. Nevada batch plants will eliminate truck traffic that has become inconvenient to the dense neighborhoods (downtown and University Village, respectively) that have grown up around them.
Repurposing the Pikeview and Black Canyon lands will allow for exciting public uses, which Transit Mix looks forward to discussing in greater detail down the line.

Because of its community benefits, 6 members of the Colorado Springs City Council today announced their support for Transit Mix’s proposal: President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler, Councilmember Tom Strand, Councilmember Merv Bennett, Councilmember Andy Pico, Councilmember Don Knight, and Councilmember David Geislinger.

President Pro Tem Jill Gaebler said, “These community benefits are truly exciting. Transit Mix batch plants are no longer a good fit for our downtown or North Nevada, which are among our most dense and growing neighborhoods. This plan will create new possibilities for these areas and the Pikeview area, where our view corridor and recreational opportunities will be significantly enhanced.”

Councilmember Merv Bennett said, “Hitch Rack Ranch is the single best location for a new quarry in El Paso County. There are 1500 residences within one mile of Pikeview quarry, compared to only 13 residences within one mile of Hitch Rack Ranch. Because Hitch Rack Ranch is 1,432 acres and Transit Mix is proposing to mine fewer than 200 acres, there would be a significant buffer between the quarry and those few neighbors. As far as quarries go, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Councilmember Andy Pico said, “The early closing of quarries and facilities, with their conversion to public uses and other, more compatible economic uses, will greatly benefit the citizens of Colorado Springs and El Paso County.” 

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