Heartland Biogas appeal rejected
March 31, 2017
» Water — Weld County agreed to sell and allow the use of the Hoekstra gravel pit near Firestone, Colo., to the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District. The planned 1,083.49 acre feet of water will cost $3.2 million, at 3 percent interest annually, over 20 years. Weld County gets $215,000 per year in the next two decades, and the Central Water Conservancy District keeps water in Weld County for use in agriculture. This has been planned for at least two years, when The Geisert gravel pits, near the Weld Food Bank on H Street, were converted to 1,100-acre-feet of water storage.
The Board of Weld County Commissioners on March 27 provided no slack to a renewable energy company currently in suspension, rejecting an appeal that will force the non-operational company to construct a second access to its property.
Heartland Biogas, which uses farm and food waste to create renewable natural gas, sits at Weld County roads 49 and 40. Since opening, it has used a temporary access from Weld 49 to get into its property.
As part of the Weld 49 project, which involves a number of improvements for the stretch that runs from Interstate 76 to north of U.S. 34, that Weld 49 access is scheduled to be closed — as soon as late spring.
The plan is to re-route Heartland traffic to Weld 40, which runs along the south side of Heartland's property. There is a dirt access road there, but it's not built up like the access along Weld 49.
Commissioners heard an appeal from Heartland asking for the temporary access along Weld 49 to be extended indefinitely, basically until the company is able to re-start operations — if that ever happens.
Heartland filed a lawsuit against Weld County after commissioners, citing odor and other violations, suspended the company's permit in December 2016.
Former Weld County Commissioner Bill Garcia represented Heartland at the hearing. Garcia works for Coan, Payton and Payne LLC, which has represented Heartland since fall 2016.
Garcia said the appeal centered on the company being forced to go to the extra expense of creating a new access to a site that may never operate again.
Heartland has paid more than $700,000 for intersection improvements at Weld 40 and Weld 49, but paving on Weld 40 will only go 300 feet east of Weld 49, and won't reach Heartland's access point along Weld 40.
The company's current access isn't paved, but it is wider and better prepared for truck traffic.
Still, using Garcia's own words — that there is limited truck traffic now due to the ongoing shutdown — commissioners felt the Weld 40 access would suffice. ❖
— Tyler Silvy covers city and county government for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at email@example.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.