NEWSLETTER: Library district may close branches, new Code standards for alt energy, gravel pit protested

Library district may close branches to pay for new building in Delta

At yesterday’s Library District Board meeting, members met in Crawford to discuss the unbudgeted cost overruns to convert the old City Market building in downtown Delta into a new Delta branch, taking the place of their historic Carnegie Library building. What started out as a simple remodel at an estimated cost of $1.3 million is now expected to exceed $4.3 million as contractor’s gut the asbestos-laden building.

More than two dozen citizens showed up at the meeting when they’d heard that the Crawford Library might be on the chopping block. Library board members reportedly discussed several possible scenarios to help solve their financial crisis. The ideas they discussed included:

1) Work with a deficit budget and keep all five libraries

2) Work with a semi balanced budget, and close three libraries: Hotchkiss, Cedaredge and Crawford

3) Keep only the new branch in Delta

The original Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) signed in March by Delta County, the City of Delta and the Library District, committed $2 million from the County, $400,000 from the City and $100K from the Library District. The agreement, however, also noted that each party would pay 33.33% of any cost overruns. This means, at the latest estimated cost of $4.3 million, the District needs to come up with an additional $594,000.

While construction is underway, the public has yet to see an architectural drawing of the expected outcome.

Public comment is being taken by Library District Director, LaDonna Gunn, at


Weeks after Commissioners call for moratorium on alt energy, new code standards proposed

On Sept. 6, 2022, Delta County Commissioners agreed to turn away any new applications for “commercial-scale renewable energy facilities in unincorporated Delta County” for the next six months. They also tasked planning staff and the Planning Commission (PC) to develop standards for solar farms and other renewable energy projects in the county’s Land Use Code.

Two weeks later, after Commissioner Suppes publicly criticized the PC for being slow to act on much needed updates to the Code, the County’s planning department released a draft that includes new standards for Renewable Energy Facilities in Delta County.

Highlights from the proposed code:

• The requirements of this Section shall apply to all proposed new and proposed modifications to a commercial-scale Renewable Energy Facility, including battery storage. In order to begin an application for a commercial-scale project, the applicant shall demonstrate that a Power Purchase Agreement is in place for selling the power generated by that facility. These standards shall not apply to a personal scale Renewable Energy Facility, which is an Allowed Use in all zoning districts as an accessory use to a permitted principal use subject to the standards for accessory uses in the applicable zoning district.

• The energy facility shall not have a significant adverse impact on agricultural lands or agricultural operations. Commercial scale projects should avoid impact to soils identified by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance. Where a project is located on agricultural designated lands, the project shall include an Agricultural Management Plan that adequately demonstrates continuation of Agricultural operations given the site conditions.

• Renewable Energy Facilities should be designed to minimize loss of irrigated ground, and shall maintain irrigation to surrounding properties (including access rights-of-way and easements).

• Ground-mounted solar panels, including inverter/transformer equipment, shall be located at least 70 feet from property lines and 200 feet from any residential structure. Any substation on site shall be located at least 500 feet from any residential structure.



Commissioners hear controversial gravel pit/asphalt plant application, postpone decision

Last week, the Board of County Commissioners heard an application from Elam Construction, a sand and gravel company based in Grand Junction, asking to expand an old gravel pit that they’d recently purchased in Delta County at the intersection of Highways 92 and 65 along the Gunnison River. The company also wants to add a mobile asphalt mixing facility to their operation.

Board members were met with opposition from dozens of surrounding residents who complained that a previous agreement states that an asphalt plant would never be allowed. They also told Commissioners that the gravel pit had been virtually inoperative for many years and the impacts of starting back up would highly impact their quality of life.

A letter written by an attorney hired to represent some members of the community was presented to Commissioners and discussed extensively the prior agreement and cited the Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation to deny, at least, the asphalt plant.

After hearing from the applicant, planning staff and citizens, Commissioners tabled their decision saying they needed time to read the lengthy application.

The board plans to rule at an upcoming public meeting.

Pictured: Opponents protest the application with a float on the Gunnison River depicting County Commissioners floating downstream with Elam as the shark that swallows citizens. Photo courtesy Riley Dunn