Two highly-anticipated public hearings to be held by the Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recently took different directions, leaving the Board to focus on ongoing County business for the last few regular meetings.
A public hearing was rescheduled for the Special Use Permit application, submitted by Denis Moynihan of Fraser Valley Radio, for a permanent 90-foot, 2,500 radio tower to be erected on a privately-owned tract of land in the Batson Tracts subdivision, located north of Tabernash and the Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort. In November, the Grand County Planning Commission recommended denial of the permit, following an emotional hearing in which neighbors to the property raised concerns about negative visual impacts, property value repercussions, and potential radiation-related health hazards.
In explanation of the request to postpone, Moynihan indicated that the Grand County Department of Community Development had requested a visual demonstration of the proposed final height. In response, a temporary adjustable tower that has been in place at 35 feet, has been raised to the full 90 feet. Fraser Valley Radio– broadcasting as KFFR 88.3 FM, Fraser Free Radio– has mailed notices of the demonstration to all property owners within 1,000 feet of the site. He also encourages the public to check out the tower at its full proposed height. He discourages trespassing but says that the tower can be viewed from County Roads 84/83. His hope is that the visual demonstration will “confirm that the tower is well-masked and unobtrusive.”
The hearing has been rescheduled for February 6 in the BOCC meeting room at 1:30 p.m. The public can provide comment to the BOCC at that time.
Another contentious Special Use Permit application was recently heard before the BOCC and initially continued without decision. The application by TM Fencing to maintain ancillary commercial fencing activity on the historic Samuelson property in Fraser has also been met by neighbor resistance. However, even after hearing neighbor concerns around safety, noise, and road access rights in November, the Planning Commission did recommend the application for approval, citing historic usage and protection rights.
A multi-hour final hearing was heard by the BOCC and ended with the Board continuing, in order that Staff might have the opportunity to answer questions, including around the County’s legal ability to place conditions on a private road easement. Community Development Staff was prepared with more information when the hearing was resumed last week, but was interrupted by Alan Hassler, County Attorney, when he requested that the public hearing process be moved for a motion. Although initially put out by the request that seemed designed to work around the public voice, neighbors were satisfied when the said motion was to withdraw the application.
Cathy Samuelson, property owner and mother of Ehren Samuelson, co-owner of TM Fencing, indicated their intent to withdraw, saying that “we will probably be sued if we continue.” She went on to emphasize her continued belief that the right to conduct commercial fencing operations was an established right, as it had taken place on the property as early as the late 1800’s. When asked about next plans, co-owner Jonas Pearson declined to comment, saying, “We are going to keep decision-making within the company before we release any information publicly.”