COALVILLE -- After hearing a solid front of opposition, the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission has tabled an application for a proposed military/law enforcement/survival training area.
Commissioners said their biggest concern was Chamtech's use of a private, narrow, dirt road that was the subject of a state Supreme Court ruling decades ago. Surrounding landowners claim the court ruling limits the easement to personal and livestock use, not commercial activities.
"It all starts with the road issue to me," Commissioner Michael Brown said. "There's no use to debate the other issues until we figure out the road."
Chamtech, of Draper, proposes to create the training facility on 2,500 acres of graze land six miles east of Henefer. Activities for training students would be "low intensity," said Kimber Gabryszak, from the Summit County Department of Community Development.
Instructors would train groups of up to 15 students in ATV riding, sniper shooting, surveillance, combat skills and other survival tactics. The applicants are not proposing explosives, drones, aircraft, a shooting range, tanks, chemicals or machine guns, Gabryszak said.
"I am an advocate of private property rights and appreciate wanting to make some money," said Henefer Mayor Randy Ovard. "But I do not believe it would be something I would want next to my property. In regards to the people in Henefer, not one is in favor."
A dozen Summit County residents spoke during the hearing and were adamant in their opposition.
"I can understand an owner wants to own his land and do the right thing with it," said Bruce Rowser, who described himself as a good friend of Kendall "Tiny" Woolstenhulme, who owns the 2,500 acres in question.
"But this does affect other people and becomes a problem to me. We need to respect each other's property rights."
Another concern of the commission was the fire danger the training facilities could pose.
"It wouldn't be the typical lightning strike and small campfire we normally deal with," said Summit County Fire Warden Bryce Boyer. "It could be very costly."
To mitigate the danger, Chamtech would be required to have an emergency action plan, its own radio frequencies with equipment to boost the signal, water storage and an on-site water truck.
The company would be liable for the cost of any fire-suppression efforts, most of which would have to come from the air.
Commissioners would like to take it one step further, requiring the applicants to carry an insurance policy with coverage of as much as $4 million.
Commissioners want more time to consider the impact the facility would have on nearby Fremont Indian petroglyphs and numerous other issues.
They also requested a business plan to demonstrate the financial impact a $5 million to $10 million insurance policy would have on the company's profits.
Eric Hernandez, Chamtech president, emphasized the proposal is not all about profitability.
"It's not that we're trying to make money," said Hernandez, a former member of the military and Department of Defense contractor.
"I'm giving back my experience of being in dangerous areas and allowing people to live off my experiences."
During the public hearing Wednesday, not one member of the standing-room-only crowd spoke in favor of Chamtech's application for a temporary-use permit that would last two years.
A similar proposal by Chamtech was denied in Duchesne County on Aug. 4, Gabryszak said.