Tire shredding facility comes under county scrutiny again

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RBC | In a special meeting held Wednesday, Oct. 31, the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners discussed the tire shredding facility just west of Meeker owned by Lee Overton. The facility, which has been in place for a little more than two years, has been called an “eyesore” and a potential health hazard by residents, and been the subject of multiple complaints to the commissioners.
Overton has applied for and been denied a building permit at the site due to potential violations of his operating plan and other concerns.
RBC Building Official Jeff Kummer presented a list of the potential violations and fire hazards, stating, “These are unverified,” as he has not been allowed access to the site.
“I do know there has been some concern about fire safety and the lack of fire mitigation,” said RBC Planner Rachel Gates, but stated that according to her research, the facility is in compliance with state regulations for a tire shredding facility. The state, however, does not cover fire inspections, leaving it to the local jurisdiction. In this case, that would be the Meeker Fire District. Chief Luke Pelloni has the authority to determine what the site needs for fire safety.
Kummer stated he has never seen the fire plan for the facility.
“I don’t want anyone to think that I’m trying to cheat this, or that I’m above the law. I’m not trying to do anything under the table. I live in this town, too,” Overton said. “If we’ve known about this for a year and half, and I’ve never even heard of all this stuff. If I would have been presented with this, I would have gotten a plan in place.”
Kummer said the application for the building permit is what triggered another look at the site.
Overton addressed the possible violations listed, saying almost all of them have already been addressed, then asked the board, “What’s our plan here? I know people don’t like to look at it. I don’t like to look at it either.”
“He has an operating plan. There’s a few things in here it looks like had to get done and it looks like he got them done. Nothing in his operating plan said he had to do that. Nothing in there says he has to report to Rio Blanco County,” Bolton said. “We have a number of people in this county who flat out don’t like it, and they’re going to come up with every excuse humanly possible to try to get this thing shut down and get it moved. We, this board, probably 20 boards back, made the decision to zone that industrial. It’s an industrial piece of ground he bought. It’s not up to us to pick and choose what business goes out there. This is our fourth go-round because of one complaint after another. At some point this needs to end.”
Bolton said he had read through the list of “theoretical violations” and couldn’t find anything that jumped out as a safety or welfare issue.
“It’s got to quit sometime,” said Commissioner Jeff Rector. “We’ve got businesses leaving our towns and we’re going to run another one into the ground?”
“These are laws that were adopted,” Woodruff said, adding, “I don’t understand why some of this wasn’t addressed. I feel like if Lee met it two years ago and he comes in for a permit, where were we for the last two years?” Woodruff said.
“We’re going to have to figure out a way so this isn’t happening every four or five months. I already know what’s going to happen next summer as soon as the mosquitoes crop up. There has to be some way to put this thing to rest so he (Overton) can have some peace of mind,” Bolton said.
Asked what the process is for the building permit, Kummer said the fire chief will need to inspect the site and sign off on it.
“Unless I have a huge concern, I think we can put that part of it to bed (fire requirements for the tire portion),” Pelloni said.
The board agreed to revisit the issue in a couple weeks after inspections have been made by Kummer, Pelloni and a state inspector.

By NIKI TURNER | editor@ht1885.com