Commissioners order fire policy with approval of proposed geology camp
With student safety a main concern, the Fremont County Commissioners ordered a professional fire plan before they approved a Special Review Use permit Tuesday for a university geology camp just south of Cañon City.
The University of Oklahoma hopes to build an educational camp in the High Saddles Subdivision off Oak Creek Grade Road. Because the property is adjacent to forest land and is not in a fire protection district, the commissioners required an adequate fire protection plan.
Dr. Douglas Elmore, director of the OU School of Geology, said student safety is paramount.
“We protect our students,” Elmore said as he agreed to the commissioners’ conditions. “They are the most important thing. We will do whatever is necessary to protect them. We need to have a camp that is safe.”
Elmore said OU has a long history of bringing students to the area, utilizing the Oklahoma State University geology camp on Upper Beaver Creek.
“We would like to continue that,” he said. “We need our own camp.”
The facility would primarily be used May through September each year, with 20 to 30 students attending for five or six weeks at a time. The students would use the camp as a base, venturing out each day for field mapping and to interpret the local geology.
“We think it will be a very nice addition to the University of Oklahoma, and we would certainly like to continue coming to the Cañon City area,” Elmore said.
The facility would include a dining hall, office, garage, kitchen, two bath houses, eight student cabins, three visitor/faculty cabins and two ADA cabins. A pavilion and permanent residence also are planned. Elmore said once established, the camp also could host students from other schools.
Matt Koch, Cornerstone Land Surveying, is working with OU on the project. He proposed a fire protection plan that included a 10,000-gallon cistern, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, a master alarm, safe areas in the open, and vegetation and combustible clearing according to guidelines established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“The Fremont County Sheriff, BLM and National Forest Service will not fight a structure fire there,” Koch said, but would indeed battle a wildland blaze. The OU plan will create contingencies to prevent structure blazes and to fight one if necessary.
“We want to facilitate this (camp), because we think it’s a great idea,” Commission Chairman Mike Stiehl said.
With approval of the SRU, the commissioners waived landscape, surfacing and lighting requirements to keep the landscape as natural as possible. The panel received no input during the public hearing for the permit.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners approved an SRU permit for an AT&T Wireless 100-foot monopole tower at the northwest corner of the intersection of U.S. 50 and N Street in the Beaver Park area. Again, no public input was received during the public hearing.
“I am a little surprised there is no comment,” District 3 Commissioner Ed Norden said. “I’m sure the neighbors saw the postings, and their absence here speaks for itself.”
The structure will house six dual broadband antennas, six tower-mounted amplifiers, an equipment shelter, a utility meter, an ice bridge, GPS antenna and an 18-inch base station antenna within a 40 by 40 foot area.
Liz Walker, project manager, said the tower is designed to withstand hurricane force winds, but is built as a breakaway structure in the unlikely event of catastrophic failure.
“It will come down in two pieces and not just fall over,” Walker said.
In other action, the commissioners:
— Set the mill levy for 2010 collection at 12.432 mills, including the 12.294 allowable plus an additional 0.138 refunds and abatements adjustment.
— Re-appointed Tom Doxey of Penrose to a three-year term on the Fremont County Planning Commission and appointed Joe Caruso of Florence to finish the term of Tom Piltingsrud, who recently resigned. The City of Cañon City will designate its appointee in January.
— Appointed Sandy Johnson to the Penrose Community Library District Board of Trustees for a five-year term.
— Rescinded two SRUs for wind monitoring masts in the Tallahassee area.
— Rescheduled the Dec. 22 meeting to 9:30 a.m. Dec. 29, because two commissioners are unable to attend that day.
— Scheduled a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 17 to certify the complete list of mill levies for every taxing entity in the county, plus address any other business that may emerge.