Gold Hill Mesa wants you to grow your vegetables
Willard seeking to remove ‘cloud’ from project

       “You mean I can't grow a vegetable garden?”
       Bob Willard says he's grown weary of hearing that question from possible home buyers in his Gold Hill Mesa subdivision.
       So the manager of the project's investment group recently put in the following request to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Let him lay in 3 feet of dirt over the tailings-contaminated ground instead of the 1 ½ he's approved for - plus another foot from his homebuilder - and in exchange let him say “yes” instead of “no” to gardening inquiries.
       Under current health regulations for the 1,000-plus homes in the 210-acre project, “you could plant all the flowers you want,” Willard explained. “But the fear is that vegetables would draw up the pollutants and cause harm to people or animals.”
       Personally, he doesn't think very many people actually do plant vegetable gardens in their yards, but “we get a lot of questions about it, and it seems to put a cloud on the project.”
       The state, as well as the federal Environmental Pro-tection Agency, would need to sign off on the deeper-dirt plan, but a 4-foot cover is close to that in the neighboring Crown Hill Mesa subdivision - parts of which are also on top of chemically treated gold tailings - and besides, no vegetable roots would ever go that deep, Willard said.
       If approved in time, the change could take effect for the 210-acre project's first 168 homes, which will start being built north of Lower Gold Camp Road this summer, he added.

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