In Jefferson County, Colorado, major land use rezoning requests, especially those for mining uses, were historically very controversial and resulted in long, contentious hearings before the three-member Board of County Commissioners. Decisions on such requests had been typically satisfactory to few, if any, of the parties involved and were politically costly. So, in February 1986, the Board convened the Aggregate Resources Roundtable (“aggregate”, referring to crushed rock or processed stream deposited sand and gravel). The group of twenty-four people included representatives from the mining industry, individual concerned citizens, representatives of public interest groups (e.g., the League of Women Voters), planning staff members from both Jefferson and adjacent Douglas Counties, mining consultants, local environmental/advocacy/homeowners groups and an environmental regulatory specialist from the state of Colorado. Mark Loye was that regulatory specialist.
As a senior reclamation specialist for the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Division, Mark had a graduate degree in systems ecology and, at that time, over six years in regulating the environmental impacts of surface mining of all non-coal minerals in Colorado. He was in charge of a team of reclamation specialists with jurisdiction over the southern half of Colorado. Based on that background, and his residency in Jefferson County, Mark was selected by the County Commissioners to be a member of the Roundtable.
The Roundtable met regularly for nearly one and one-half years, issuing its final report in July 1987. You can review the entire Aggregate Resources Roundtable Report if you want more details of its findings. For the purposes of this summary, Appendix 1 of the report recommended creation of an “Ombudsperson” to “…coordinate and oversee the public involvement pre-application process…” for extractive mining operations in Jefferson County. In August 1987, Mark was hired in that role with the title of Aggregate Coordinator and held that position until the end of 1993.
Jefferson County then paid for Mark’s mediation training, and his career as an environmental/land use mediator and facilitator began immediately. During the next 6+ years, he facilitated and mediated groups of a few people to perhaps as many as one hundred. The proposed land uses involved large (millions of tons per year) and small rock quarries, clay mines, traditional gravel pits along or near streams, landfills (one non-hazardous waste landfill proposal on the grounds of the then-active federal Rocky Flats nuclear trigger production facility), a household hazardous waste collection facility, a public shooting range, a task force to site an important connector road, residential developments and other group facilitations as requested by Jefferson County. Mark’s duties obviously exceeded the original mandate. A comprehensive summary of this work can be found by going to Aggregate Coordinator’s Facilitation History.
During his tenure as Aggregate Coordinator, Mark facilitated or mediated over 250 meetings totaling perhaps 1,000 hours (not counting preparation and meeting follow-up hours). A few of the individual project facilitations lasted for one or two years. Although formal agreements were not always reached by the participants, the primary thrust of this program was to allow parties to get all relevant issues on the table and explore solutions, thereby reducing contention at eventual formal hearings and allowing the Commissioners to have an easier, shorter path to an eventual decision. Mark succeeded in this task.
Download The Aggregate Resources Roundtable Report