In early 2016, Transit Mix Concrete Co. (TM), a local subsidiary of Chicago-based Continental Materials Corporation, submitted an application to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety to develop a new quarry on the historic Hitch Rack Ranch, located approximately ten miles south of Colorado Springs, just west of Highway 115.
In October 2016, a two-day hearing was held by the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board (MLRB). The board denied the application for a mining permit because TM failed to satisfy specific requirements regarding the legal right of entry, the hydrological balance and the safety and protection of wildlife.
In the aftermath of the MLRB’s denial, Transit Mix first petitioned the MLRB to reconsider its decision, and then, without waiting for the board’s response, filed for a judicial review of the board’s decision in district court. In its complaint to the court, Transit Mix sued all the defendants for “costs and attorney’s fees.” According to attorneys and third-party legal experts, this action was clearly a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) meant to intimidate and silence the objectors by burying them in legal fees. Because of the bad press coverage it received concerning the SLAPP, TM finally abandoned its request for costs and attorney’s fees.
The 1,400-acre ranch is located amid several hundred rural homes and is adjacent to The Nature Conservancy’s Aiken Canyon Preserve and the Ingersoll Ranch. The entire area is identified as significant wildlife habitat and a big game migration corridor between the mountains and plains.
In October 2017, Transit Mix submitted a revised application, “downsizing” the quarry proposal in an effort to obtain the MLRB’s approval and get its foot in the door. However, the issues identified in the first application remain the same for the second: a significant risk to local resident’s water resources, adverse impacts to an environmentally significant area and the intermittent closure of Little Turkey Creek Road to the owners and families of the 36 properties in the Eagles Nest development. The MLRB Hearing is scheduled for April 25th – 26th.
Issues that fall outside the MLRB’s authority include: traffic safety, noise, air quality and the creation of another visual scar along the front range — one larger than the Pikeview Quarry scar visible from much of Colorado Springs.
To curry favor with local elected officials, Transit Mix has offered what they call the “4-for-1” deal. This disingenuous offer includes reclaiming two quarries that are already in reclamation (offering to do what they are already supposed to be doing), and moving two aggregate processing operations to South Academy Boulevard, from land they are currently planning to sell anyway. This is a hollow, “Nothing-for-1” offer and is an insult to the citizens of Colorado Springs and their elected officials.
This quarry proposal needs to be stopped. We need to quit destroying the natural beauty of the Pike’s Peak region, which is why people and businesses choose to live and do business here.