Minutes of the January 8, 2017 Special Town Meeting

Posted on: January 15th, 2018


Minutes of the January 8, 2017 Town Meeting

 The meeting was called to order by Chair Tony Vrba. Nineteen people were in attendance: Member at Large Dan Maedke, Julie Rouse, Tony, Rick Sinner, Norman Skarstad, Dina Elder, Bob Walter, Maggie Simms, Rick Sheingold, Amy Fortunato, Kort McCumber, Peter Swift, Karen Simmons, Leslie Finn, Steffi Wilson, Elisabeth Caspari, Marcus Moench, Virginia Schultz and Secretary Gretchen Diefenderfer.

MINING – Tony began with the Mining/milling issue as a number of people were there principally for that. She reported speaking with Amy Eschberger at Colorado Division of Mining Reclamation and Safety (P 303.866.3567 x8129 | F 303.832.8106 | C 303.945.9014   1313 Sherman Street, Room 215, Denver, CO 80203

Amy.Eschberger@state.co.us  | http://www.mining.state.co.us), who is the person handling Mark Steen’s permits for the mining (M1983-141) and milling (M1994-117) and his application for an amendment to the milling permit, which was posted on a tree in Lefthand and got the attention of Kort and Amy. http://drmsweblink.state.co.us/drmsweblink/DocView.aspx?id=1230723&page=1&dbid=0) . This involves the Mill’s plan to pump water up from Lefthand for the mill, and is an amendment to the original permit issued approximately five years ago.  She added that Michael Cunningham (michaela.cunningham@state.co.us) will be taking over for her.

Tony’s understanding is that comments can be submitted to the above address starting now and up to 10 days after public notice (presumably in the Boulder Daily Camera) has been given. Amy Eschberger had come up on August 1 and cited the mill for several violations of the original permits in 83 and 84 and operations are temporarily suspended until the violations are addressed. They have until sometime in June to address the violations and get the Mill operable (there is a five year limit to the milling permit, although extensions may be granted) or the area will have to be reclaimed.

Notices will have to be delivered to the affected neighbors of any permits, and those who send in comments will also be notified as well as being asked to come to a hearing.

February is supposed to be a decision date, but there may be extensions. The Times Mine has been approved for water storage, which is possible to be in the millions of gallons.

A lot of general discussion ensued at this point. Maggie thanked Tony for dong all this research and finding out so much for us. Rick Sheinhold stated the he has concerns re hikers and their dogs on the trail in the area of the old pipeline because the debris was never cleaned up and there are shards of pipe down there. No stewardship was shown in the past.

Tony also read an email from Max Yeager:

I’m writing this to share my thoughts regarding the current proposals and requests referencing the reopening of the Gold Hill Mill.

I have read the description of processes outlined by the public note statement.  I have worked with all of the operators of the “mill”, including the builders, excluding the current operators. 

I do not think they are asking for anything different than what has been permitted and monitored since the mills inception in the mid to late 1980s. The permit has been dormant since Mt. Royale Ventures shut down in 2011 or 2012.  There is a period of time that the permit can sit dormant with little effort to reactivate it.  I think that period has passed so the new operators are required to jump through more hoops.

 The consensus in Gold Hill during the initial permitting process in 1987 was this:

  • We live in the Gold Hill Mining District, Boulder County, CO
  • Mining is a use by right  in forestry zoned areas
  • Periodic operation of the Gold Hill Mill and Cash Mine properties would be less impacting on Gold Hill than residential or recreational development of the property.
  • MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) and DMG (Colorado State Department of Minerals and Geology) are, with a few exceptions, effective watchdogs.  They can both be called with comments or concerns.

The waterline following Old Lickskillet to the Times Mine Portal was included in the original permit process.  Mark Steen acquired share(s) in Left Hand Water in the early 1980’s.  The first, maybe only, attempt was unsuccessful not because of the PVC pipe but rather the solvent weld (glued) joints were not up to the task.  The multiple stage piston pump was correctly sized for the task.  The second line was upgraded to schedule 80 PVC but the one inch diameter did not take into account friction loss for the linear distance of the run.  This was during the Wayne Tatman era and I don’t think it was ever used.  These thoughts on waterlines I can’t guarantee due to time lapse but I believe are pretty close.  The bottom line is that the head requirement to lift water from Left Hand Creek to the Times portal is not unreasonable. I was never present when the pump was running so I can not address the  noise or abatement thereof.

Bob Mason’s comment about the Left hand water being make up water is spot on.  The water collection of the Times Mine has the potential to be in the millions of gallons.  The strike of the Times Mine is North or into the Left Hand drainage.  The Left Hand water rights should apply to this water also.

 The permit for the Mill to process ore is exclusive.  It applies only to ore that has been generated on the Cash Mine group of properties.  Importing ore onto the property is strictly prohibited.  This refers to the original 1980’s permit.  I have not seen any request to change this.

 Sorry I couldn’t attend the meeting.  Maybe my two cents worth will help. I am certainly happy to further discuss this with interested parties.


 Amy Fortunato mentioned that if a larger pipe is planned above ground, what about flooding and access issues in emergencies? They also have concerns about the noise and size of the pumps, and any accessory buildings and storage areas, since they live right down there.

Julie Rouse, who also has property down near Lickskillet, expressed that it’s an eyesore now – will there be cleanup required and overseen?

Peter Swift is an engineer and will look over the technical documents.

            Maggie made a motion for Tony, as Chair of the Town Meeting, to write a letter saying that the Gold Hill Town Meeting has met in a Special Meeting and listing the members concerns and stating that other members will also be writing. Rick seconded the motion and it passed with no objections.

            Kort reported that Steen has posted a no trespassing sign and welded a chain across the trail down there and it is not on his property. Amy has filed a no trespassing affidavit on their property.

            Marcus asked about the Mill’s water rights. Rick Sheingold replied that it’s in the document – the flow rates, etc. It’s thought that he has 5-6 shares of the Lefthand ditch company.

BYLAWS – Tony reports that Gretchen had suggested that the new council members read the bylaws to know more about our duties and requirements. Tony looked them over and sent out some track changes to the council members for discussion and comments. Tony heard from Bear, who responded that his opinion is that, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Gretchen suggested a bylaws committee to look at the suggested changes. Tony said that some people have suggested that the TM meet every month, which generated some discussion, but most people did not want additional meetings unless they were needed, like this one.

Tony also thought we should address spending protocols for the various committees as she had wanted to put together a volunteer appreciation event and spend town funds upon approval of council members. Martha and Gretchen responded that this would need approval of the Town Meeting and suggested a potluck. Tony also wanted to suggest two-year terms for council members.

            Rick Sheingold moved that we form a bylaws committee. Leslie seconded and the motion was approved. Tony, Peter, Gretchen, and Rick Sheingold volunteered to serve. We could use another member.

            Other issues to look at are a communication policy (for instance, when the bylaws were written, we stuffed mailboxes with newsletters and now we principally email them with some mailing to people without email), and the residency requirement for voting. The residency requirement is somewhat convoluted- must have lived in Gold Hill for sixty days during the twelve months prior to the meeting or for sixty days during the previous five years with no less than five days in any one year. Bob pointed out that there is a reason for this and it developed to find the balance between some property owners, old bluebirds and others, who were only here in the summer and full time residents, many of whom at that time were renters. And now we have people like Bear and Poppy, John and Cherry Sand, the Sinners, Karen Simmons and others who have been here for years, and might not be here for 60 days before a meeting, but should still be eligible voters.

            Maggie added, as far as meeting more often, it seems to her that in the time she’s been here there haven’t been problems so urgent that they couldn’t wait, or if it couldn’t wait, we can call a Special Meeting or plan ahead, i.e. for the annual bake/rummage sale.

            Another issue is budgeting. Tony learned that we used to have a general budget meeting in October, after our fundraising bake and rummage sale, and thinks we need to do this. Steffi agreed. Maggie made a motion to move budgeting into a Strategic Planning Meeting on a yearly basis, maybe in October. It was decided that the bylaws committee could look at including in in Article I, Section 2, as Item 8.

STRATEGIC VISION – Tony asked committees for reports and visions for the next year.

Community Planning – Dan reported that he thinks we can run the bake/rummage sale event more efficiently and bring more people in. He will need more people on sub-committees to do this. Maybe hire a band to attract people, and make sure we don’t run out of food.

 Community Spaces – Tony reports that Jojo Morrison isn’t able to be here tonight, but she has been working hard on Rancho Fazoo.

 Historic Gold Hill – Gretchen reports that Deb Yeager is the new Chair of the Museum Committee and is a go-getter – there is lots going on. There will be another community outreach event – this one on the Switzerland Trail, with speakers and displays.

Forest Management – Virginia will be double-checking with the County, but is pretty sure the chipping grants will be available again this year. Last year the TM spent $648.88 (1/4 of the total), the County provided 1/2 and the residents paid ¼. She hopes to get more interest this year and will begin publicizing it sooner. She would like to ask for $1000 during the budgeting process. She suggested we could maybe do more – Saws and Slaws, or maybe become a Fire Safe City. Tony added that the CSFS has a list of mitigation projects and she and Virginia will check to see if anything in our area is on the list. There is concern about the North side of town over growth and regrowth since the mitigation efforts in the past.

Weed Management – Tony reported that there is no representative at this time – is anyone interested?

Mining – Amy Fortunato added that she had some examples of letters to the MLRB from Bob Mason and passed them out for people to look at who might be writing about the Mill. She added that the notice that was on the tree is not there anymore and they did not think that was sufficient as a good example of public notice – that there should be more. Tony asked if we should have a Mining Committee.

 AirLink – Dina reports that their latest grant was from United Way and they still have a couple of thousand to spend, mainly getting Jamestown included in the network. They have had a couple of equipment failures and are working on improving the robustness. They are getting a generator. Jamestown has gotten a bunch of simple walkie-talkies and another new radio. They have created pods, like our NeighborLink system and distributed walkie-talkies to each. We still have $1800 for Gold Hill communications and could get walkie-talkies as well, but they don’t work out west of town past the Ranch. Some better ones could, but are a little more complex. She thinks someone in town should facilitate and organize this and see if people support it. She added that it would be good to get the Fire Department involved to work together and practice radio communications.

            Virginia added that we would need to put together a plan four levels deep, written down and practiced to make it work for any emergency. Leslie said the Fire Department would be involved in some cases. If the power goes out in town, she sends out an email for people to check on their neighbors, but in general the community will need to deal with the Ham Radio system – contact Communications and then the Fire Department will be notified. Dina said Motorola also has a program that gives grants for community communications.

Cemetery Committee – Bob reports that you have to pick up the phone to contact him (303) 444-4768. They buried four people this year – big year. The committee will be seeing some changes. He thinks 48 years is probably enough and Maggie and David have agreed to transition into chairing the committee. Chellee Courtney is always the records keeper and back up – and is also writing a book, Kris Gibson has also been part of the committee. He said that he and Maggie will probably be meeting people who call together  for some time.

            Tony thanked Bob so much for his 48 years and all his work.

Resiliancy/Strategic Vision/Sustainability – Tony has made efforts in the past year to bring in speakers – EFAA and the Area Agency on Aging, who are coming to the GH Store monthly to meet with people and have been able to help some people. Also the water guy, Erik Wardle of Colorado State, as well as someone to speak about the medical reserve came up. She would like someone to take this on, as well as the Community Center idea. This would need to be a good communicator – form a committee?

            Dina would like the Town Meeting to focus on particular issues related to strategic planning. Virginia added that they did a survey a couple of years ago after she, Dina, and Jessie took the BoCoStrong training, which would provide some information. BoCoStrong is being folded into United Way now for grants, etc. Maybe Strategic Planning should be worked into the bylaws?

            Peter added that a couple of years ago County Transportation did a traffic study because of speeding in town and offered to work with us on that. His work involves sustainable development work including traffic calming. Speed bumps, etc. aren’t the best solution, better to look at horizontal changes like chicanes.

Maggie moved that we adjourn and the motion carried.

Respectfully submitted, Gretchen Diefenderfer, Secretary.