If you missed the public hearing on the Flood Restoration before the Boulder County Commissioner’s on July 25th, 2017, you could watch the lengthy proceedings (select July 25th hearing)– or read my presentation below– or here are the highlights: SOSvv members introduced on public record, before the County Commissioners, Land Use Director, Dale Case, & BCPOS that there is an obvious conflict of interest in BCPOS and the District seeking permission and favors from Martin Marietta in lake 4 Restoration, while Martin Marietta is simultaneously asking the Director and Commissioners to approve the controversial permit SU 96-18. It seems improbable that Martin Marietta would altruistically grant such concessions to the County without expecting reciprocal & special consideration from the County Commissioners and Land Use Director.
Another highlight: Commissioner Jones offered to ban Martin Marietta from the open bid process for Restoration work due to obvious conflict of interest. That was quickly shut-down by the County’s attorney, Kathy Parker, in expected bureaucratic fashion. However, the Commissioners did pass a condition that if & when Martin Marietta and BCPOS arrive at an “agreement” for MMM to perform the restoration work in Lake 4, that a public hearing will be held, and we will be allowed to review and comment, instead of the plan being presented before the commissioners in a business meeting. We will keep you posted on the date of such a hearing and hope that you will join us then.
My name is Amanda Dumenigo and I live in unincorporated Boulder County in the Hygiene municipality. I am also Chairperson of SOSvv, Save Our St Vrain valley and speak on behalf of our members before the Commissioners today.
[re: the Flood Restoration Projects.LU-17-0014 Boulder County Parks and Open Space- Lake 4 Repairs and LU-17-0011 BCPOS St Vrain Creek Reach 3 Restoration].
On June 26th, 2017, SOSvv asked the County to answer questions regarding Martin Marietta Material’s involvement in the proposed flood restoration plan. We received a response from Boulder County Staff Planner: Christian Martin (attached). Mr. Martin states in #4 states that “Any approvals and/or permits for gravel mining / processing that Martin Marietta is seeking for Special Use Permit 96-18, which involves much of the acreage in this restoration plan, are separate from and independent of this recovery project….[and in #7] The relationship between the County and the permit owner, Martin Marietta Materials, is coincidental as MMM owns property in the area and with permission can provide significant cost savings, an estimated 6 million $$$ to Boulder County and the district. “ In an effort to GREATLY reduce costs of the project and therefore reduce the financial burden to the County and the St Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District the proposal includes disposing of debris in the neighboring lake 3 because this is a host haul distance, a very economical location potentially reducing cost by 6 mill $$ & # 3 “…to limit impact to natural resources
More Specifically, Mr Martin affirms in his response that:
–-BCPOS is seeking permission from MMM to use their access road from HYW 66 for construction and hauling access…& Proposes to establish a route via MM existing access rd to hwy 66 then south on 63rd / 61st
—BCPOS is also seeking permission from MMM to use an area north of Lake 3 for construction staging, refueling and storage…
—BCPOS is seeking MMM permission to place Excess Fill within the Lake 3 area…
…and [#10″ If Martin Marietta agrees to allowing the Excess Fill to be placed in Lake 3 area, possibly saving the County and the District $6,000,000, projected saving”– as emphasized in the first and final answer #1 & 10.
So, emphasis from Land Use insofar as the restoration plan is conserved, focuses on an immediate projected cost saving of $ 6 millions by electing MM to do the restoration work. It seems to completely overlook long-term and hidden costs inherent in the County having MMM do the restoration work, and that there is a conflict of interest.
Taking the restoration project in context– There appears to be an obvious conflict of interest. BCPOS and the District are seeking permission and favors from Martin Marietta while simultaneously being asked by Martin Marietta to approve controversial permits SU 96-18. It seems improbable that Martin Marietta would altruistically grant such concessions to the County without expecting reciprocal & special consideration from the County Commissioners and Land Use Director in their controversial SU 96-18 currently undergoing the approval process.
In September 2013, the St. Vrain River experienced the most devastating flood ever documented. A wall of water flowed down the mountains lifting houses off their foundations, destroying riparian habitat, causing above ground gasoline tanks to bob in the water, breaching man-made ponds, and contributing at least four fatalities. More than 1,600 people were evacuated, 1,200 homes destroyed and damaged, and 900 square miles impacted by flooding. This destruction was aggravated by the man-made changes to the watershed that preceded the flood event. For example, the watershed was dramatically altered by previous gravel and other mining activities immediately adjacent to the St. Vrain. The earlier gravel mines failed to reclaim the land and instead left behind numerous ponds that added to the floodwaters when they were breached by the St Vrain river, thus exacerbating the destruction– some of these ponds even caused flooding in areas of Longmont outside the floodplain. Pella Crossing just cost tax payers 3 million dollars in restoration. None of the previously mined ponds in the greater Hygiene area have not been reclaimed properly or restored post flood–.
I’d like to remind the Commissioners that The BCCP Geologic Hazard and Constraint Areas Map designates the majority of the SU permit 96-18 proposed mining area as a Moderate Hazard Area. “Geologic Hazard Area,” with a “Moderate” risk of flooding. The Geology Element of the plan states, “Moderate Hazard Area shall mean that area, or those areas…where geologic conditions are such that significant geotechnical problems exist and there is provisional risk related to intensive land uses” (Geology [GE] – Page 1). Notably, GE 1.02 states: “The county shall discourage intensive uses in Moderate Hazard Areas.” Due to the fact according to Mr Martin’s letter that we are in the 100 yr floodplain.
When it comes to major construction projects in the watershed, the 2013 flood changes everything. Or at least it should. The County appears to be proceeding as though the flood never happened, as evidenced by its reactivation of SU 96-18 in a business meeting with MMM and approval of the building site plan in January 2017 and its entertaining converting ~640 acres of agricultural land (according to Land Use’s classification that hasn’t recovered or been restored or reclaimed) to an intensive gravel mining operation, all of which was in the 2013 floodplain. The 2013 flood restoration work isn’t even complete in the watershed and the County appears poised to approve a massive mining project similar to previous ones that added to the destruction of the watershed–even causing flooding in areas in Longmont outside the floodplain; this would be adding insult to injury, the brunt of which would be endured by the residents and inhabitants of the area at a hidden cost total payers.
BCPOS is focusing on the immediate cost saving by using MMM to do the restoration. It seems that BCPOS enlisting the help of MMM may seem like a cost savings but it may be very expensive– costing Land Use Dept and the Commissioners the freedom to objectively evaluate the particulars of SU 96-18 permit (for instance the obvious violations to the Resolution 98-35– specifically the 5 year lapse in activity and the failure to establish a Citizen’s advisory committee 5 yrs prior to mining Phase II). But also the expense of the Commissioner’s violating it’s own motto regarding flood restoration as stated in its current webpage regarding flood resiliency, the Boulder County Commissioners offer the following statement:
“Local governments such as Boulder County have a responsibility to regulate development in the floodplain or else we may jeopardize the ability for everyone in our jurisdiction to obtain flood insurance. Boulder County is taking a thoughtful and cautious approach to rebuilding. We need to understand the long-term implications of decisions we make today and how they will impact and inform the outcome of the next disaster. The county is working diligently to assess the future hazards and make informed decisions that will provide the base for further activities in recovery. People’s lives have been turned upside-down by this event. Boulder County is working with the community to balance the need to rebuild with the need to plan wisely for the next natural disaster”.