RBC | County staff and local fire officials are actively discussing the need for additional water at the Meeker Airport following multiple inquiries about new hangar construction on the property. RBC Building Inspector Matt Franks and Emergency Manager Eddie Smercina discussed the issue with the Board of Commissioners Tuesday following their own separate discussions with the local fire protection board, Meeker Fire Chief Luke Pelloni and the state fire marshal.
In past work sessions about adding water capacity at the Meeker airport, county staff and officials discussed installing a new water line. Unfortunately such a project would be costly, and might not start until at least 2025 according to Budget and Finance Director Janae Stanworth.
Building Inspector Matt Franks proposed an alternative, intermediate solution to allow hangar construction in the near term — “an 18,000 gallon cistern hooked to a hydrant in a central location.” He said such a system could be used to suppress a fire if necessary, though constructing it would require a special fire code variance from the local fire chief.
Franks said the local fire board has already indicated an unwillingness to grant additional variances for fire suppression cisterns in the event of future hangar construction requests. This means the county will still have to consider adding a new water line at the airport in order to facilitate additional hangar-construction projects. According to paralegal Vicki Edwards, an additional hangar construction inquiry is already in the queue.
Stanworth said facilities director Eric Jacquez plans to present possible funding solutions for a water line installation at the airport sometime in June. In the meantime, RBC board members will meet with the local fire board to discuss the issue in more detail.
As part of a broader discussion, Franks expressed his thoughts about the need for a more “localized” fire code. As it stands, RBC falls under state and federal codes, which Franks deemed “restrictive,” and potentially inappropriate for a county with a large number of remote locations, many of which have already been granted special variances in order to continue operation. County Attorney Don Steerman also expressed general support for a more local-specific fire code, noting that existing variances could pose a liability in the event of litigation.
RV SEPTIC REGULATION
Commissioners Ty Gates and Jennifer O’Hearon voted to send a proposed land use regulation (LUR) amendment back to the planning commission for the second time following discussion about confusing legal language. Under current regulations, residents cannot live in RVs longer than 120 days (from April to November) without being hooked up to a central water/sewer system. Franks explained the regulation could impact residents who were living in RVs while their permanent home was being constructed.
The planning commission’s initial proposal was rejected by the board of commissioners who asked for more specifics. The latest version of the amendment was also rejected following concerns from Steerman about its language. He emphasized the benefit of requiring residents living in RVs to propose a specific plan about how exactly they will dispose of wastewater. The amendment was tabled until the planning commission reconvenes for further discussion.
During a short regular meeting, the board approved an engagement letter with Paul D. Miller to prepare a Solid Waste Disposal Report for presentation to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. They also approved a liquor license to the Town of Meeker for 2022 Range Call events, as well as distribution of federal Title 1 “Forest Reserve Fund” money to local school districts.
RBC Board of Commissioners Chairman Ty Gates said he attended multiple meetings in the last week, including some with county staff, and others about recovery and agriculture.
Commissioner O’Hearon said she’s been busy getting to know department heads, getting ready to attend the Colorado Counties Incorporated (CCI) conference, and catching up on all of the commissioner meetings from this year, which are archived and available on the county’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/c/RioBlancoCountyColorado/videos
By LUCAS TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org