by Marissa Lorenz
The Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recently paved the way for a new pay-to-use trash drop-off station near the intersection of Highways 125 and 40, west of Granby, enabling another option for trash disposal in a county that has struggled to make the service accessible and affordable in recent years. On May 7, they unanimously approved a Special Use Permit for the construction and operation of the Ranch Creek Solid Waste Transfer Station, to be open to residents and businesses later this year.
The County has been without an operating landfill for nearly a decade, following the permanent closures of the Grand County and Kremmling landfills in 2010. At that time, commissioners chose to “get out of the trash business,” after already spending over $4 million to mitigate slide concerns at the County landfill and facing additional mitigation costs of between $8 and $28 million. Since then, Grand County’s waste has been hauled by truck to the Erie Landfill, over 100 miles away. Recyclables are transported to a single-stream facility in Denver.
Solutions to the problem were in place quickly, with The Trash Company opening a transfer station in Granby at the time of the closures and with other options popping up around the county, such as The Drop in Fraser and Grand Lake’s Pay As You Throw Trash. However, The Trash Company’s Transfer Station in Granby remains the only option for disposal of large items, such as appliances, furniture, and construction debris. There also remains a lack of market competition, resulting in some of the highest disposal costs in the state, reported at $145/ton. This last has been of particular concern to builders in the area, with the Grand County Builders Association indicating in their own meetings and meetings with County government that waste disposal costs are a key factor in rising building, demolition, and remodel costs throughout the County. The high costs have actually prompted some residents and the Town of Kremmling to seek other options, utilizing landfill services in neighboring Eagle County (up to $47.47/ton) and Summit County (up to $72/ton).
Seeing a need for both redundancy and competition, Larry Romine of STC, LLC, began pursuing the option of an additional transfer station in Grand County. Romine has been involved in the trash industry in Colorado since 1972, including work in Summit County, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties. Most recently, he was the builder and operator of the Silver Plume Transfer Station. Romine is in purchasing negotiations for the commercial logging property just opposite the County landfill on Hwy 125, and he and the property’s current owner, Mike Jolovich of Ranch Creek Ltd., submitted a permit application for what’s to be called the Ranch Creek Solid Waste Transfer Station in February of this year.
The application proposed the construction of a building and the ongoing operation of a facility that “will take in and hold the waste of up to an anticipated 200 tons per day, with the residents of Grand County as the primary users.” It has since been under review by the Community Development Department and the Grand County Planning Commission, answering varied concerns from such things as traffic to visual impact and environmental safety. Though a letter and individuals representing a group of nearby residents did present opposition, the application was approved for recommendation by the Planning Commission on April 10.
The discussion was brief at the BOCC’s public hearing. There was no additional protest in front of the Board. Romine did address the opposition and staff recommended conditions, telling the BOCC, “We’re going to be a good neighbor.” And “A lot of the conditions are already addressed in our operation plan and they are there to keep us to being a good citizen.”
Commissioner Merrit Linke motioned to approve the 5-year permit, and the motion was supported by Commissioners Rich Cimino and Kris Manguso. In response to the approval, Romine stated that “It is a very good move for the BOCC. The county is growing in leaps and bounds and, in a county without a landfill, if something were to happen to the single transfer station, what would people do with the trash in Grand County?”
While engineering and building design are already underway, the earliest anticipated opening for the new transfer station would be September 1, 2019. According to Romine, actual disposal costs are dependent on the final operation plan and purchase costs of the site itself, but he anticipates drop-off costs to be less expensive than those currently charged by the Granby Transfer Station.
**At the time of publication, no comment about the decision had yet been received from the Granby Transfer Station or The Trash Company. Also of note– the Planning Commission has mentioned the potential of lowering refuse transport costs in general by contracting for waste disposal with the Foothills Landfill in Golden
rather than with the Erie Landfill.
by Marissa Lorenz