HIGHLIGHTS, Nov. 5, 2018, County Commissioner meeting

• Amid controversy about the availability of water, health and safety concerns, and viewshed impacts, commissioners voted unanimously to approve the development of a 20,000-chicken commercial egg-laying operation on Fruitland Mesa. Recent Missouri transplant, Noah Knox, told commissioners that he would seek a temporary water solution while awaiting a well permit. Details were sketchy on the temporary solution and included the possibility of hauling water to the site. Commissioner Roeber asked Knox whether he had contacted Fruitland Domestic Water Company about using two water tabs owned by Knox to supply his operation. Knox replied that he had not.
A nearby neighbor of the Knox ranch, Rita Claggett, showed a video of the proposed road that would be traveled by at least two tracker-trailers transporting feed and eggs to-and-from the operation. The video showed several instances where a semi would have to cross the road centerline and enter the oncoming lane on several blind curves. Commissioner Roeber responded to traffic concerns saying that the county would put up speed limit and other signs if they proved necessary.
• Commissioners approved a waiver request made by the county planning department that took the development of six of eight proposed TDS towers out the standard Specific Development process and treat the project as a “minor development.” County policy allows any tower below 40 feet to be handled by planning staff requiring no public meeting, Planning Commission review or County Commissioner approval. The eight towers proposed by TDS are, however, over this limit: three are 50 feet, four are 60 feet, and one is 70 feet. Citizen Report asked county contract planner, Kelly Yeager, for the grounds on which he based his decision to treat the proposed project as a minor development. Yeager responded that the towers where “all over the map” meaning that they were located in various places in Delta County.
A dozen residents interested in the TDS project attended the meeting. Several voiced concern about electric and magnetic field (EMF) emissions; one resident saying she might have to move if a proposed tower was placed close to her home. Another resident asked TDS representatives present at the meeting why the company was using old technology (poles with dishes) rather than the new fiberoptic technology. TDS staff replied that the company’s financial analysis of the project showed that a repeater set-up was their best proposal.
• Darnell Place-Wise, former executive director for the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce, has been hired to the county’s administration department to help the executive team with public relations outreach and other administrative tasks. She will report directly to Robbie LeValley and has full-time status.
• Tom Alvey, President of the Board of Directors for the Colorado River District (CRD) and Delta County CRD representative, gave commissioners a dire account of the current state of the Colorado River Basin and the impacts of long-time drought on the state’s water supply. Alvey told commissioners that CRD is focused on developing a Drought Contingency Plan that “could shape water-use for the next 100 years.” “This plan could be as important as the Colorado River Compact itself,” said Alvey. The plan could include a voluntary program that pays large water users such as Western Slope farmers to temporarily cut back on usage. Another idea includes a second pool at Lake Powell to store supplemental water when levels drop below adequate drawing capacity. CRD is also working to improve public education and recently developed an online presentation on the state of the Basin: https://www.coloradoriverdistrict.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/8.28.18-final-pp-for-webinar.pdf
• Josh Pagan of Garvin Mesa talked to commissioners during constituent time about the Gunnison Energy seismic testing project proposed very near his home. Pagan told commissioners that friends, hunters and neighbors had heard blasting in the area and he wanted to know the status of GE’s Specific Development application. County Administrator, Robbie LeValley, updated Pagan and the audience that an application was in motion.
• Commissioners signed a $174,000 contract with Durango consultants, RPI, Inc., to help the county’s planning department develop and implement new land use codes. RPI, Inc., helped Planning Commissioners develop the recently updated County Master Plan.