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Gold mining and milling approved in Black Hawk

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Council supports letting voters choose whether to increase betting limits and add games

By Randy Beaudette

The online Black Hawk City Council meeting covered topics such as the Special Use Review for the Golden Gilpin Mill, a stealth telecommunications tower, and a certain devise tax forgiveness for the month of May.

Mayor Spellman called the Council to order at 3:00 pm followed by Roll Call and an online Pledge of Allegiance. Roll call revealed Council members present online included Linda Armbright, Paul Bennett, Jim Johnson, Greg Moates, Hal Midcap, and Benito Torres. Also present online were City Attorney Corey Hoffmann, City Manager Stephen Cole, City Clerk/Admin Services Director Melissa Greiner, and Deputy City Clerk Michele Martin.

City Attorney Hoffmann asked Council to declare any Conflicts of Interest on any issue appearing on the agenda other that than those already disclosed and filed with the City Clerk and Secretary of State. There were no objections from the City Council or from anyone online.

Approval of Minutes

Black Hawk City Council approved the meeting minutes from the May 27, 2020 Regular meeting.

CDOT Grant Agreement (Council Bill 14/ Ordinance 14-2020)

The City was successful in receiving a grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Distribution from CDOT was based on previously awarded 5311 Grant funding. This grant allows reimbursement of transit related expenses related to the coronavirus and requires no local match. This Grant allows reimbursement retroactive to January 20, 2020 and expires December 31, 2020. We will be able to submit reimbursement requests for all cleaning, maintenance and fuel for the transit service as well as any startup costs once the service resumes. Once this funding is fully exhausted, we will still have our 5311 Operating Grant that requires the 50% match. City Council approved CB 14 unanimously.

Property Acquisition (Council Bill 15/ Ordinance 15-2020)

CB15 is an Ordinance Stating the Intent of the City of Black Hawk to Acquire, through eminent domain certain property for the construction, expansion, and improvement of City Streets and Roadways, Pursuant to C.R.S. § 38-6-101, C.R.S. § 31-25-201, Article XX, § 1 of the Colorado Constitution, and Article 8, Section 4 of the City of Black Hawk Home Rule Charter. Black Hawk City Council approved CB 15 unanimously.

Special Review Use for the Golden Gilpin Mill (Resolution 45-2020)

Black Hawk City Council also approved a request for a Special Review Use for a mining/ milling and tourism use of the property at 7593 Highway 119 for the Golden Gilpin Mill project. In June of 2017, the applicant, Matt Collins of Black Fox Mining LLC, initiated discussions with the City of Black Hawk regarding the status of the Golden Gilpin Mill. Because the property was/is zoned Environmental Character Preservation (ECP) and because the mining/ milling use had been discontinued since 2011, the re-use of the site for ‘Mining/ Milling operations/ use’ would require a Special Review Use (SRU) permit. At the request of the property owner, George Otten Jr., Mr. Collins began cleaning up the site. In May 2018 he applied for and received a Certificate of Architectural Compatibility for repairs to the mill’s roof and exterior, and was issued a building permit for structural improvements to the mill.

In October of 2019, the City of Black Hawk received an application request for the SRU permit from Matt Collins on behalf of the George E. Otten Jr. Trust, BH Mining LLC, and the Central City Consolidated Mining Company. The request is for the reactivation of the site, congruent with its historic use as a mineral processing facility, serving the nearby Bates-Hunter Mine located in Central City.

The Golden Gilpin Mill is located in Black Hawk at 7593 Highway 119 (see Figure 1). In addition, the request includes ‘Tourism’ as an additional special use. The Golden Gilpin Mill property consists of two parcels: Mill Site #10 (parcel number 1833-072-01-022) and Mill Site #11 (parcel number 1833-072-01-035). Both parcels are located in the Environmental Character Preservation (ECP) zone district. Per Section 16-76 (c) (3) regarding Special Review Uses within the ECP Zone District: “Mining and mining related uses, including mining heritage uses, such as a mining museum which preserves the community’s mining heritage, may be permitted if they are not a threat to public health and safety and do not adversely impact surrounding land uses.” Portions of both properties are also located within the FEMA 100 Year Flood Boundary.

The planned use of the site is to re-commence mineral processing and to accommodate limited educational and historic tourism thru this proposed Special Review Use (SRU) permit (if approved by the Black Hawk City Council). Modern regulatory concerns limit the ability for the general public to have access to a working mill, and as such, limited tourism is planned. Some options for limited tourism include tours by appointment, establishing an information kiosk (possibly located on City owned property, if granted, across Highway 119), and a possible extension of the Tramway Trail with a spur that runs along the west property boundary.

The site would process mineralized rock produced from the Bates-Hunter Mine located in Central City. The existing DRMS permit number M1990-041 allows up to 70,000 tons of material to be processed each year. This equates to approximately 200 tons per day, and that is likely much more than the mill is capable of processing. It is anticipated that the mill would likely not exceed 50 tons per day. Material will be delivered to the site by small dump truck or dump trailer of no more than 15-ton capacity per load and is not expected to exceed four trips per day. The same trucks that deliver material will haul tailings away from the mill site back to the mine. Refer to route maps included with the application.

Crushing and grinding of the material will be conducted inside the building, and a water mist will be used to minimize dust. Once the material is ground into a fine sand, the sand is separated by gravity using a jig and shaker table. Large materials are returned to the grinder, and smaller material goes to a conditioning tank where chemical reagents are introduced. These reagents may include a variety of chemicals, all of which are nontoxic, non-SARA III (Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act) listed chemicals used in very small quantities (e.g. 0.1-0.3 lb./ton of ore). Refer to the Project Description for a list of chemicals commonly used in mineral processing. From the conditioner tank, the slurry is then treated in froth flotation cells which are analogous to a household blender. In these cells, valuable constituents are floated to the surface of the froth where they are mechanically scraped off as a concentrate. This concentrate is then dewatered using a disk vacuum filter. A Mineral Process Flowsheet is included with the application materials

Structural Height Variance Denial (Resolution 46-2020 and 47-2020)

Black Hawk City Council approved a continuance to deny a structural height variance of 53 feet to allow a 103-foot tall stealth/ faux (water tower design) CMRS tower structure for the T Mobile Facility at 821 Miners Mesa Road. On May 10, 2019 the City of Black Hawk received an application request for a Certificate of Architectural Compatibility (COAC), a Height Variance, and Site Development Plan for a Communications Tower for T-Mobile from Chris Stryker, a representative of Vertical Bridge. The request involves a proposed 103- foot multi-user telecommunication facility at 821 Miners Mesa Road. The proposed location is zoned Public Facilities (PF) and is located at the City’s material storage yard on Miners Mesa. The Black Hawk zoning regulations allow a tower on property zoned PF to be no taller than 45 feet above grade, therefore the variance requested is a deviation of 58 feet taller than allowed. The City approved a Lease Agreement in January 2019 with Vertical Bridge Development, LLC on January 23rd, 2019, for the installation and maintenance of a cellular tower facility on City property on Miners Mesa with no understanding of the need for a future variance. If this application is approved by City Council, then the approved Lease Agreement will need corrections approved in the near future with updated legal descriptions (recently discovered) for this subject lease area. Telecommunication towers require a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), so the project was reviewed under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The review found that the proposed tower will have no adverse effect on resources within the area of potential effects. Proximo Distillers, developers of the Lake Gulch Whiskey Resort, entered a letter of opposition to the 103-foot tower, citing aesthetics and diminished property values of a property they have yet to purchase. The Public Hearing continuance to be held on June 24, 2020 will include input from Proximo as to what would be an acceptable height of the faux water tower that will be in view of the Whiskey Resort.

Fee Schedule Amendment (Resolution 48-2020)

Black Hawk City Council approved an amendment to the City’s fee schedule. In the amendment Commercial Land Use fees have been replaced with Pre-Land Use Application fees and Formal Land Use Application fees.

Gaming Devise Taxes Forgiven (Resolution 49-2020)

Under the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, the Mayor of the City of Black Hawk has issued an Order Declaring a Local Disaster Emergency in and for the City of Black Hawk, Colorado because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The State of Colorado has further ordered that casinos across the state of Colorado be closed because of the pandemic. The City desires to assist the gaming industry in the challenging times created by the necessary response to the pandemic by forgiving certain Device Taxes for the Month of May 2020 payable in June 2020 and deferring certain Water Fees.

Gaming Limits Support (Resolution 50-2020)

Resolution 50 is Resolution in Support of Proposed Initiative No. 257, “Local Voter Approval of Gaming Limits in Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek,” on the 2020 General Election Ballot.

Of the twenty-three states that allow commercial betting, Colorado is one of only two states with betting limits and Colorado’s limits are by far the most restrictive in the country. Allowing the residents of the City of Black Hawk the right to vote on maximum single bets of any amount and adding games gives the residents the local control to determine what is in the best interest of their community. Increasing betting limits and adding games will reasonably ensure the competitive and economic vitality of the Colorado gaming industry, as the industry contends with other gaming jurisdictions throughout the country. Increasing betting limits and adding games has many collateral benefits for the City of Black Hawk and the State of Colorado – more out of state visitors will choose to experience Colorado gaming and all the other attractions Colorado has to offer over other states which will help bolster the economy, expand employment opportunities, and increase tax revenues. Increasing betting limits and adding games will not only bring in visitors from other states, but will enhance the gaming excitement for Coloradans who travel to other states, such as Nevada, keeping Colorado dollars here at home. Increasing betting limits and adding games will serve to help drive and support the extension and development of new amenities in the City of Black Hawk, establishing a more diversified resort destination, which in turn will encourage additional and extended visitations to the City. Since limited stakes gaming is restricted to the three mountain communities of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek, critical decisions about the future of gaming should reside with the residents of these communities.

Next Meeting

The next Black Hawk City Council regular virtual meeting will be held June 24, 2020 at 3:00 pm. For more information go to www.cityofblackhawk.org.

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