Sign to Stop Boulder County's #1 Polluter!

Board of Boulder County Commissioners

Photo by Wylie Hobbs, Good Neighbors of Lyons

The CEMEX Lyons cement plant is the #1 polluter in Boulder County, emitting 357,000 tons of CO2 per year and accounts for about 7% of the entire County’s emissions. For context, this is equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 30,000 people. CEMEX Lyons is a 54-year old coal-fired plant, permitted with 1960s air quality standards, that produces serious environmental concerns that go far beyond their greenhouse gas emissions. With the recent closure of their adjacent Dowe Flats mine, CEMEX began trucking in 100% of their raw materials needed to operate the plant, which has resulted in an additional 10-20 35-ton trucks delivering material EVERY HOUR. This roughly doubles historical truck traffic into CEMEX.

The very material changes made to CEMEX’s operation after the closure of their adjacent mine is what gives the State of Colorado and Boulder County the power, and obligation, to terminate their grandfathered status and ultimately decommission the plant. Help us kick start that process!

Petition by
Good Neighbors of Lyons
Longmont, Colorado

To: Board of Boulder County Commissioners
From: [Your Name]

Dear Commissioners Levy, Loachamin, and Stolzmann,

We are writing to formally request that you take action and uphold the Boulder County Land Use Code regarding the termination of Nonconforming Use (article 4-1003) as it relates to the CEMEX Lyons property, located at 5134 Ute Highway.

After the closure of its Dowe Flats mine, in October 2022, CEMEX Lyons began trucking in all of their raw materials from remote locations. County residents have observed and complained publicly on Facebook and other forums about 10-20 ‘new’ 35-ton trucks driving to CEMEX Lyons via Highways 36 and 66 every hour. This includes significant traffic through the City of Boulder from a shale operation south of Boulder County.

This is a significant alteration and enlargement from the baseline use, as the truck traffic has roughly doubled. These changes are so substantial that they have caused CDOT to require a new access permit.

CEMEX’s recent operational changes have resulted in:
- Significantly more intensive use of their land and/or its services,
- Hazards and public nuisance on/off the property,
- Increased threats to public health and safety, and
- An adverse impact on the character of the neighborhood.

CEMEX has also created new shale stockpiles, and the size and land area occupied by the stockpiles of other materials has increased dramatically. These new and increased stockpiles are now highly visible from US-36, Hygiene Road, and by numerous neighbors. This is an enlargement and alteration of use, affects the character of the neighborhood, and is a visual nuisance off the property.

These new, intensive uses clearly trigger the non-conforming use termination clause (Article 4-1003.C.1.d) for CEMEX’s Lyons-based plant on a number of fronts, which now compels the Boulder County Director of Land Use to send a notice of termination (Article 4-1003.H.1) determining that the property owner’s right to continue a non-conforming use has, or may have, been terminated because of violations of Section 4-1003 (alterations of use) of the Land Use Code. Upon receiving the letter, the property owner has 30 days to provide evidence to the Director of Land Use to the contrary, appeal to the Boulder County Commissioners, or apply for a Special Use Permit.

Termination of the non-conforming use and denial of a Special Use Permit would ultimately result in the closure and demolition of the plant as the cessation of operations would trigger CEMEX’s DRMS (Colorado Department of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety) Reclamation Plan.

What we are asking of you, our Boulder County Commissioners: Require that Boulder County Land Use Director, Dale Case, act on Article 4-1003.H.1 (notice of termination) by sending a letter to CEMEX Lyons indicating that nonconforming use has or may have terminated in accordance with Section 4-1003 of the Boulder County Land Use Code (alteration of use). For your convenience, we have included a draft letter that Director Case may use for reference. As a reminder, per Land Use Article 4-1001.A, the County has a duty to eliminate nonconformity “as speedily as justice will permit”.

It is also worth noting that Article 4-1003.H.2 states, “...any failure by the Director to provide a notification of a determination of termination as provided for in this Section shall in no way entitle the property owner to continue or resume a nonconforming use terminated by operation of this Section 4-1003(H).” This means that any past failures to enforce the above codes do not give the property owner the right to continue those alterations of use. We have also attached a matrix of 15 past alterations that may have met the criteria in Article 4-1003 (alteration of use) and could have triggered Section 4-1003.H.1 (notice of termination).

We are simply asking that you enforce policies that were thoughtfully put into our Land Use Code to protect the community at large. Taking this step may very likely be one of the most impactful things you will have the opportunity to do in your lifetime to fight climate change. CEMEX Lyons is the #1 C02 emitter in Boulder Count (representing > 7% of all emissions), with annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual emissions of ~30,000 people, and they have every intention of hanging around ‘indefinitely’ if we let them.

Thank you for your time and attention to this incredibly urgent and important matter.