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Among the diverse items on the agenda for the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) regular meeting on Feb. 1 was a discussion of changes to the county’s COVID public health orders, a contract for the continuing Methodist Front wildfire mitigation and several subdivision applications, some that have come before the board during prior meetings.

The Ogden Minor Subdivision Preliminary and Final Plat hearing, which has been continued several times, was again continued, this time to the Feb. 8 BoCC meeting.

Commissioners reviewed Resolution 2022-08, the McFarland Minor Subdivision exemption off Maud Lane outside Buena Vista. They gave unanimous approval after county staff finally worked out the complications between the owner of the two subdivided parcels, and the area Home Owners Association regarding the maintenance of the private road.

The Tomkiewicz/Fortier Heritage Water Subdivision Exemption, being made by applicants Warren C. Tomkiewicz III and Karen A. Fortier has been continued multiple times, and it was continued again to Feb. 8. The request to divide 19.8 acres of rural-zoned land just off U.S. 50 in Salida would create two lots. One will retain the shared well, the other lot will have augmentation or connection to Poncha springs central water.

The BoCC chose to reduce the fees for the Cogan Farms Agricultural Subdivision Exemption to $200. It was first filed in June 2020, but then withdrawn by the Applicant in July 2020, and just reintroduced.

Methodist Front Treatment Project

The BoCC approved a not-to-exceed bid of $126,675 from contractor BMWest to handle the Methodist Front Phase Two treatment of 118 acres of both private lands and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The treatment for wildfire mitigation will cover a forested area.

There were three contractors contacted and the county did get lower bids. But upon review, the wildfire working group decided to recommend the BMWest proposal.

“It’s a good bid,” said Colorado State Forest Service Ranger J.T. Shafer, presenting the proposal. “The bid included the specified equipment, a detailed approach plan, and a good timeline that matches our scope of work.”

The Chaffee County Fairgrounds are much larger than the area that contains the buildings, arena, and parking areas. The county has leased unused land for cattle grazing and haying over the past several years and is poised to continue the practice.

Fairgrounds Property Lease

The BoCC held another lengthy discussion about the lease of some 80 acres of Chaffee County Fairgrounds land to Lisa Scanga, for cattle grazing.

Following their discussion a few weeks ago, Commissioner Greg Felt toured the area to review what was being described. It was decided that a two-year lease to Dec. 2023 with Scanga for the large portion of the land (for grazing and haying, allowing for a prior six month period when they hadn’t been able to use it), minus an area that may be needed for a short period of time for some RV camping would be appropriate. A roughly three-acre (rocky) corner parcel adjoining the Bright property was approved for horse grazing.

The final agreement will be drafted for review at the BoCC Feb. 8 meeting.

New Public Health order

Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) Director Andrea Carlstrom reported that CCPH has updated the public health order. The county will continue to meet virtually through March 1, then further decisions can be made as the current surge of the Omicron variant slows.

“We may hit herd immunity by the end of February,” Carlstrom reported. “It does seem like efforts like borders, restrictions will most likely change. We’re not there yet, we have to get through this surge, assess lessons learned, assess what Omicron has done to our healthcare system.”

She paused and added, “Despite the surge in the last two weeks where we have had a lot of people impacted,  we’re on the most hopeful track yet, notwithstanding the vaccine rollout. It feels wise to stay the course until we get this particular chapter behind us. We need to take a practical and sustained approach to how we normalize COVID.”

“I’m glad we took the precautions we did, given this was highly infectious. It seems to be following the course, a few are coming in [to the office], but they have been careful…that’s worked for us,” said Commissioner Greg Felt.

While the BoCC had set their current virtual meeting – county building mask mandate to run through the end of January, they deem it wise to continue virtual or at most hybrid. They voted unanimously to continue the decision for committees and boards another month — through February.