The Chaffee County Commissioners have postponed deliberations on Nestlé Waters North America’s plans to move water out of the Arkansas River Basin to a bottling plant in Denver until April 21st to make sure that they have enough time to review all public comments and submitted site plans and other material. Organized opposition to the project — while coming in a bit late in the process — is growing by leaps and bounds. Here’s a report from Jennifer Denevan writing for The Mountain Mail:
Additional information for the 1041 application deals with site plans for Bighorn and Ruby Mountain springs, the Colorado Division of Wildlife plan, weed management and more. It was requested for use by planning commission members, but will also be distributed to commissioners, county staff members and county consultants for review. It’s unclear when county planners will meet regarding the 1041 application, but their next regular meeting is March 31 and they may set a date then. County commissioners will reopen the continued public hearing at 1 p.m. April 21 in the Buena Vista American Legion Hall for more public comment and possibly a decision regarding the permit applications. Commissioners extended hearings because they have massive amounts of information – including public comments – to sift through.
About 30 speakers, mostly in opposition, addressed commissioners Wednesday night. Comments against approval included lack of economic development for the county, potential environmental harm, traffic issues and the Nestlé company history with similar projects in other states. Several residents said they believe Nestlé will benefit from the project more than Chaffee County.
More coverage of Wednesday’s meeting from Jennifer Denevan writing for The Mountain Mail:
After hearing from about 30 residents during a 3½ hour public hearing Wednesday night, Chaffee County Commissioners unanimously approved continuing the event to 1 p.m. April 21 for additional comments. Commissioners said they would try to hold the hearing in Buena Vista to allow easier access by residents there if a large enough venue can be found. Several comments Wednesday indicated need for a hearing in the northern end of the county. Continuing the hearing, commissioners said, would allow time to get necessary information from Nestlé and understand information offered so far. It also allows time for county personnel and planning and zoning members to review information and comment…
Several comments were offered supporting the Nestlé application. Reasons ranged from educational opportunities for students to Nestlé giving a good report and fulfilling application requirements. Frank McMurry of Nathrop said although he typically resists change in the county, as do many residents, the project – done correctly – may be an open invitation to others which could attract more industry.
Opposing comments focused on negative environmental impact from the project, negative publicity regarding similar Nestlé projects in other locations and potential safety hazards on U.S. 285 caused by increased truck traffic and inclement weather. Other opposition focused on conflicting information between studies completed by Nestlé and reports from county consultants regarding environmental impact.