Dear Letter to the Editor:
Picture a piece of Woodland Park City property being plopped down among Teller County residents without any representation (from the County or the City.) This is the current scenario as the City pushes the annexation of two plots of land on Country Rd. 231. This is being done in order to have a recycling facility for the city provided by Teller County Waste (TCW) formerly operating as Woodland Landscape Materials (WLM). However, plans to accomplish this are being pushed through with little regard for the surrounding neighborhoods.
TCW is currently being sued by Teller County for ongoing land use violations and operating without a permit at this location. A court date is set for November 19, 2013 (a former court order was issued in 2005, but not enforced). William Louis, attorney for TCW, (who spoke at the May 23rd hearing) stated that he plans to request an immediate dismissal of this court case upon the successful annexation of this property. This has confirmed our suspicion that TCW was seeking refuge from the City of Woodland Park to avoid facing the upcoming court hearing with the County!
On May 23, 2013, the City of Woodland Park Planning Commission unanimously voted to approve the needed zoning changes to permit TCW to operate a recycling center at this site and in addition park their trucks overnight containing trash. This was in spite of a number of residents speaking against the proposal (our concerns were totally ignored). This recycling plant will be operating along with the current trash operation that is already in violation with the County. We believe that TCW is hiding behind the mantle of “recycling” so they can continue operating their trash business in this location. Let it be known that we are not against “recycling”, we just believe that violations will continue at this site.
If the annexation goes through, the zoning of this site will be Community Commercial (CC). This designation is the same zoning that is currently specified for McDonalds and Walgreens. But, this facility will continue servicing and using heavy commercial trucks and equipment which should require an industrial type zoning with regulations designed to protect local residents and provide setback requirements. The lighter Community Commercial Zoning proposed will allow TCW to continue operating in our neighborhood with minimum restrictions and is a downgrade from the current County zoning of M-1 (Industrial). This is of great concern considering TCW has a history of non-compliance with County regulations. These regulations are designed to protect the health and safety of our families.
In addition, we collected 76 signatures from the Gray Horse Ranch and Sunny Slope Acres subdivisions. We have been informed that only the Gray Horse Ranch signatures count because they are in the City. The majority of the signatures from the County (those closest to TCW) aren’t valid. This proves our lack of representation in this matter.
We have been told by the City Planner, Sally Riley, that TCW is not deemed a “transfer station” and will not be “transferring trash” which by the city’s definition is “Refuse”. The W.P. Municipal Code 8.04.010 defines that “Refuse” means and includes…containers, boxes, glass, cans, bottles, garbage, waste…. (which will all be stored and then transported from this site.) We recently spoke to the State of Colorado, Dept. of Health who stated that a transfer station is one in which “refuse” generated off-site awaits transportation to an approved permanent disposal site (TCW transports the current “refuse” to Bestway in Colorado Springs and proposes to do the same for the recycling.) In addition, State Reg. 6 CCR 1007-2, section 7.2.2., F. states that there must be a buffer zone of 200 feet around the active operating area of a transfer station to the nearest resident. There are currently 5 residential County properties within that minimum requirement. However, Sally Riley has stated that this has no affect on the proposed annexation even though it violates State regulations. According to the State, this site is a “transfer station” and does not meet the minimum setback requirements and should not be allowed to exist in the County or the City.
In conclusion, virtually every true local resident opposes this proposed annexation and yet the City of Woodland Park has ignored all of our concerns. The actions of the City lack transparency and appear not to be aboveboard. At the last public hearing, we presented a suitable site for this existing business (and proposed recycling center) to the City Council that is within the City Limits (no annexation needed) and has the same desired zoning (no rezoning needed). Sadly, once again the City has ignored our highly logical suggestions.
Respectfully submitted by those listed below.
If you are a Concerned Citizen, please plan to attend the next critical Public Hearing that will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 15, 2013 with the City of Woodland Park City Council in the Council Chambers. If you have further questions or concerns, feel free to call Gary and Diane Allen at 719-687-1445, Jay and Elizabeth Turner at 719-686-1774, John and Jill Harmon at 719-963-8489, Gary and Georgee Deppen at 719-687-0647 or Larry Solecki at 719-440-2550.