Infill for development on Colorado River is legal, Grand County says

Complaints had alleged violation of rules around mining, resource extraction.

(Photo courtesy of Doug McMurdo) A heavy equipment operator works on the Kane Creek development at King’s Bottom.

The earthwork happening along Kane Creek Boulevard does not violate Grand County’s land use code according to a March 1 determination letter.

Resolving several citizen complaints filed in early February, the letter asserts that the development’s work moving soil and other fill material does comply with the county and state regulations regarding mining and resource extraction.

“There is no violation and we will be closing [the cases],” wrote Grand County Compliance Officer Brandon Black in the March 1 letter.

The complaints had alleged that earthwork happening along Kane Creek Boulevard — moving large amounts of soil and other infill from mesa tops to Colorado River-adjacent lowlands, all of it private property — violated the county’s land use code as a form of mining or resource extraction in a zone that forbid such uses.

Kane Creek Development Watch, a local group opposed to the large mixed-use development taking shape along the river corridor, also called the work a “blatant and undeniable” violation in a Feb. 8 press release.

The 180-acre Kane Creek property is primarily in the Highway Commercial zone, which forbids most forms of resource extraction, including mining or the extraction of sand, gravel or minerals. In the Range and Grazing zone, which constitutes about a quarter of the property, those activities are allowed with a conditional use permit.

Developers do have two grading and excavation permits that enable them to place up to roughly 840,000 cubic yards of fill — sand, gravel and boulders — on 65 acres of land.

Black wrote that the work he observed on the Kane Creek property appears to align with what’s permitted under those documents. He also cited both state and county code to disprove the allegations of land-use code violations.

First, the infill movement does not constitute mining, as the state’s definition of mining excludes the extraction of sand, gravel, “rock aggregate” and boulders.

Plus, within county code, the extraction of sand or gravel as a form of resource extraction not allowed in Highway Commercial is listed as a “principal” or “primary” use. But the Kane Creek earthwork is an “accessory” use, Black wrote, meaning it is allowed in conjunction with a principal use.

It’s considered accessory because it is not “commercial in nature” nor “independent of other activities.”

“Rather,” Black wrote, “the excavation activity is a dependent activity of the grading permit and ultimate development plans for the property.”

Developers are moving the infill to raise their Colorado River-adjacent property by between two and 10 feet. Currently, that land lies within the river’s floodplain and must be raised before developers can obtain building permits. They currently envision the project to include up to 580 residential and overnight-accommodations units and 72,000 square feet of commercial space.

This article originally appeared in The Times-Independent.