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KSJD Local Newscast - May 10, 2024

A lengthy and contentious public hearing Thursday night on high-impact and special-use permits for new operators at the Ironwood mill site ended with the Montezuma County Planning and Zoning Commission continuing the hearing to June 13. It had already been continued from March because of a dispute over who owned the property on County Road T between Cortez and Dolores. Ironwood, which operated a mill there, left behind enormous piles of wood chips, which led the county and the state health department to file suit against it in 2022. The new applicants, representing Palaterra-USA, said Ironwood will not be operating again. They want to use the wood left on the property to create organic biochar, a carbon product that can be used to filter out toxins. Thirteen people
gave public comments Thursday. Ten were highly critical of the proposal, and the interim town manager of Dolores also sent a letter expressing serious concerns. The planning group said the plan as presented was far too sketchy and they needed details about machinery that will be on site, noise, hours of operations, loading and unloading of trucks, lighting, and more. They said the applicants can provide that information on June 13 but no more public comments will be taken.

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Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal, and was the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.