In another hours-long session on Thursday morning, the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) slogged through the standards and conditions enforced on the original 1041 permit for a 10-year extension of an existing 1041 Permit for Nestlé/BlueTriton. While the application review has again been continued (this time to 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 6, much of the suspense is gone. Two of the three commissioners have indicated that at this moment they are leaning toward approving the permit, with conditions.
The permit for a spring water production process, and associated transmission pipeline and loading facility was originally issued in 2009 to Nestlé Waters North America, which is now known as BlueTriton. The public hearing has been continued from June 15, to May 18, May 4, April 20, March 16, February 16, 2021 and was originally continued from December 15, 2020.
Commissioners openly discussed where they are regarding permit renewal. Chaffee BoCC Chair Greg Felt and Commissioner Rusty Granzella indicated they are in favor of approval, while Commissioner Keith Baker said that he could not approve the permit.
“I don’t see the point of doing that until we reach the point of approval, approve with conditions, or deny with findings,” said Felt. “We’re at that juncture where it doesn’t make sense to keep assessing this if we aren’t going to approve.”
“We’ve looked, we’ve made that special effort to look at everything we can, standards, conditions, water studies, public input. I can’t think of anything else unless staff recommends we need to look at, to move forward with that type of general decision,” said Granzella, who has raised the idea of requiring a county royalty payment per case of spring water. “I see no reason to disapprove this in its entirety.”
“If I haven’t been clear about this, I can’t in good conscience vote to approve this,” said Baker. “But, similar to a couple of other things as in the past, there are plenty of things in my previous life, that I did because I was assigned – and now, if it is approved, I will move forward to make it the best agreement we can. I won’t be passive – I’ll make the best of the situation.”
“My comment is we need to approve it with conditions, modify the conditions and add additional conditions,” said Granzella.
“So there is a contingent element to this,” said Felt. “Rusty believes this can be approved with conditions that will meet his interpretation of the 1041 standards. I could say that too, and yet it is possible that we could not agree on what those are. So should we do two votes before a resolution?”
The decision to continue the meeting was predicated on the commissioners discussing which conditions they may agree are needed. They took a short executive session during the meeting to ask some legal questions of the county attorney. Attorney Jennie Davis confirmed that as the county develops conditions it can get feedback from the applicant, “but we don’t negotiate with applicants.”
Felt said that reaching some mutual viewpoint regarding conditions, before doing a motion approving or disapproving the permit would be the best approach. “I like it when the process includes the best possible outcome … I’d rather get as much info as possible before. I don’t want to get in the situation that we agree to do it, and get locked on conditions.”
All documents regarding this hearing may be found on the Chaffee County Public Notice website at http://www.chaffeecounty.org/Public-Notices.