JOHNSTOWN, Colo. (CBS4)– Residents in two Larimer County neighborhoods have hired legal counsel, after a local excavation company moved forward with 15-year-old plans to create a quarry between residential properties.
Larimer County officials told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas that Coulson Excavation was in the process of obtaining a permit to mine the land, which is located south of the Thompson River, in the Thompson River Ranch neighborhood.
The property was first scouted by the company in 2002, long before a neighborhood was developed. However, the project did not turn to fruition until 2016.
Several residents in the surrounding neighborhoods told CBS4 they were never told the quarry was a possibility, until after their homes were built and purchased.
Resident Terry Baldino purchased a home in The Enclave division of Thompson River Ranch, which directly backs to the land in question. When he purchased it years ago, he was told it was a flood plain, and would likely never see development.
“The beauty of this place we chose was the meadow,” Baldino said.
Baldino, and other residents, said the developers of the community never told them of Coulson’s decades-old intentions to build a quarry on the lot.
“(When buying the home) we thought, ‘Oh, yeah, this is going to be fantastic. We have wide open land to look at here. This is beautiful, nobody will ever build here,’” said Cody Peterson, an owner of a home that faces the proposed quarry land.
New homes in the Thompson River Ranch development were valued at more than $300,000. Across the proposed quarry, some homes in the Thompson Crossing neighborhood were valued at more than $1.5 million.
Residents in both neighborhoods worried a potential quarry could severely depreciate the value of their homes.
“It is kind of a valid concern,” said Lisa Irwin, a resident of Thompson River Ranch.
Larimer County officials told CBS4 Coulson Excavation was asked to place large signs on the property years ago, to warn future home buyers of the plans. A spokesperson for the county said Coulson claimed the signs were put up on several occasions. However, the county said Coulson claimed an unknown person kept taking the signs down.
“Why (build the quarry) now, when you got 1,000 homes surrounding you?” Baldino asked. “Why do you want to start digging up this meadow, when you could have done it years ago?”
Resident Cody Peterson told CBS4 he hoped the home developer would have disclosed critical information during the sales process, but was never warned.
“I probably would have reconsidered (purchasing the home,) to be honest with you,” Peterson said.
Peterson said, aside from the negatives of creating a quarry in the neighborhood, he could see at least some potential gain from the project. An attorney representing Coulson, and a county spokesperson, told CBS4 the quarry would later be turned into community open space, and ponds.
“Ten years from now, we will have lake front property,” Peterson said.
CBS4 received the following written statement from Coulson Excavation’s President, Ken Coulson.
“Our family has a long history in northern Colorado spanning four generations. We have owned the property since 1993 with the intention of developing aggregate to help northern Colorado communities build roads, including the future expansion of I-25, using locally sourced materials, which ultimately saves taxpayers dollars and keeps economic development in our community. We publicly applied to use the land in question for aggregate development in 2002, well before any subdivision houses were built. While we understand the homeowners’ concerns, we think their fight might not be with us. We intend to be good neighbors to all and to return the land as a community amenity when we are done with our work. Our family has a track record of doing just that.”
Until a decision is made in the permit process for Coulson, some in the community said they were preparing for potential health hazards from living near the proposed quarry, which could operate more than 50 hours a week. Coulson officials told residents they would make sure operation would only run during regular business hours.
“The (debris from the quarry) in the air would be a big deal, because kids play outside all day long,” Irwin said.
“We are going to have to deal with the noise, the dust,” Peterson speculated.
The county planned to revisit the proposal in November, while contemplating approving the permit request.
Those against the quarry told CBS4 they planned to overwhelm the county with opposition at the meeting. Residents said they were also hiring a law firm to represent them.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.