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Firetrucks, wind farms and coal mines

County Commisioners discuss varied topics at meeting

 


The Carbon County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) met Tuesday in Rawlins for the first BOCC meeting of April to discuss county business.

Items on the agenda included the purchase of a new firefighting vehicle, the release of the second environmental impact study for the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm project, and land reclamation funds in the wake of numerous coal and oil company bankruptcies. Later, the BOCC also discussed a conditional use permit at Brush Creek Ranch.

The BOCC voted to purchase a class six brush firefighting truck. The BOCC accepted the bid of Pierreville, Quebec-based CET Fire Pumps Manufacturing Inc. CET’s bid was for $98,735, plus freight which would have brought the total to $101,035. However the county plans to send someone to Quebec to pick up the truck and ensure there are no problems with it before it leaves the factory.

The highest bid received was for $152,250 from Front Range Fire Apparatus of Colorado. The board said the second lowest bid was approximately $11,000 more from a Wyoming-based vendor. The board debated purchasing that one in order to support the U.S. economy wherever possible, but ultimately decided to accept the lowest qualified bid.

Recent news of the proposed Chokecherry-Sierra Madre Wind Farm also spurred discussion among members of the board. The board voted to draft a letter in support of the project to the BLM who is seeking public comments after accepting the second environmental impact study last month.

The board also discussed finances and budget, especially in the area of recent energy company bankruptcies such as St. Louis-based Arch Coal. A large number of coal as well as oil and gas firms have recently declared bankruptcy in the face of diminishing demand for coal and the recent collapse in oil prices.

According to the board, most of the bankruptcies are chapter 11, meaning the companies are seeking to reorganize and restructure debt. For creditors, this means it is still possible to get paid.

Other issues surrounding the coal and oil bankruptcies was reclamation of lands no longer used for drilling or mining. According to board members, each company should have posted bond with the state before beginning mining or drilling.

The board also agreed to sign an agreement to lease facilities to the South Central Wyoming Emergency Medical Service (SCWEMS) in the towns of Encampment and Hanna.

In a separate afternoon session, the BOCC discussed the expansion of the Carbon County Youth Crisis Center. Cathedral Home, the organization that is contracted to run the center, requested funds previously allocated to the center but not yet spent.

This is necessary because the Sheriff’s office is discontinuing its youth probation and diversion program, and Cathedral Home has been asked to assume control of that program. The board requested that Cathedral Home provide a more detailed budget request before it would free up those funds.

Other business included consideration of a conditional use permit for Brush Creek Ranch. The ranch received a conditional use permit in 2010 that covered 6,000 acres said Sid Fox, director of planning and development for Carbon County. In 2011, the ranch purchased the adjacent 7,000 acre TZ Ranch and would like the permit extended to that area.

It is not possible to make an amendment to a conditional use permit, Fox said, so it is necessary for the ranch to apply for a new one. The new permit would cover 13,000 acres.

Fox said that in working with the ranch and speaking to neighbors, there had been several concerns about peace and tranquility issues, noting that the gun range at the ranch was a particular source of frequent complaints. Increases in fire and EMS calls to the ranch, as well as solid waste management issues are also a concern that should be considered, he said.

Fox also said that some area residents were concerned that the ranch was planning to build a golf course, but stated to the BOCC that there were no plans for a golf course on the property.

Several neighbors of the ranch addressed the council, stating gunfire from the shooting range has negatively impacted peace and tranquility in the area. Road traffic has increased greatly on the road to Brush Creek Ranch, one neighbor said, and this meant the county had to grade the road more often which places extra burdens on county services.

One resident said he believed the ranch should have to pay taxes at a different rate to offset the greater number of county services used by the ranch.

Commissioners passed the resolution allowing the issue of the conditional use permit for the ranch with conditions.

One such condition required a public hearing by the planning committee regarding the gun range. There were several other recommendations intended to ease tensions between the ranch, neighbors and the county, including the suggestion that representatives from the ranch meet with managers at Ryan Park EMS district, and to meet with the Upper Platte River Solid Waste Disposal District (Landfill Board) to discuss plans for managing solid waste.

The next BOCC meeting will be at 2 p.m., April 19 at Riverside Town Hall.

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