Despite staunch neighbor disapproval, planing board recommends issuance of permit to Samuelsons
The Grand County Planning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to support a special-use permit for TM Fencing to continue its business on the Hither’s Edge Ranch, despite considerable resistance from the surrounding community.
TM Fencing, or TMF, is a local company operating in unincorporated Grand County on the outskirts of Winter Park, on Hither’s Edge Ranch, a 40-acre piece of land owned by the Samuelson family. TM Fencing was founded by Ehren Samuelson and Jonas Pearson in 2004, and has been operating in part on the property since.
The ranch runs off of a private easement road, which passes several neighbors before reaching Hither’s Edge.
The hearing began with Jonas Pearson offering some information about himself and the business. He said that the business has become a statewide competitor in the industry, and that they have worked with numerous local businesses in the area, calling TMF “a critical service provider” to the community.
Ehren Samuelson reiterated the sentiment, and provided details about the operation. Samuelson said that TMF operates on .39 acres of the property, which they use to store tools and equipment. He said the company does a lot of mitigation work in the area, removing pine kill lumber for fences.
READ FURTHER: The background of the Samuelson issue
Samuelson also attempted to put to rest concerns regarding a sawmill on the property, the trucks the company uses, and the amount of time spent on the ranch. He said that there is a manual sawmill on the ranch; it is used for internal ranch use and not for the business. He also said that the business only uses three trucks, primarily F-250s and not commercial vehicles. Finally he claimed that very little of TMF’s business actually takes place on the ranch, with a large majority taking place on work sites where they are building a fence.
Opposition to the special use permit was easy to come by as dozens packed the boardroom to have their opinions heard. Speakers ranged from next-door neighbors to representatives of several homeowners associations in the surrounding area. Topics of controversy were also wide ranging.
Perhaps the biggest area of concern for the community was road conditions and safety. Several people complained that TMF’s trucks drive too fast down the road creating safety concerns, while also stirring up a great deal of dust. Others said that TMF was ignoring safety regulations on the site, and that a lack of restriction on the company could lead to a large-scale commercial operation-taking place in the residential area, as opposed to the relatively minor business now.
Another pervasive issue was noise. Residents complained that noise pollution has become a major issue, disrupting the peace and tranquility of the community and potentially negatively affecting property values in the nearby area. Others said that TMF shouldn’t be allowed a special use permit because they have been operating the business illegally for years, claiming a “don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” approach to their business.
The final major argument against the permit was the unknown effects the business could have on the environment, including the potential for increased fires, negative impacts on the boreal toad population and possible water pollution.
There were also those who spoke out in favor of the special use permit. One local contractor pointed out that whatever decision the Planning Commission made would have far reaching impacts on other contractors and small businesses in the area, and urged the board to consider the permit.
In the end the board voted unanimously to recommend the special use permit be approved, along with a set of restrictions and conditions for the business. Many of the conditions are meant to help curb some of the issues relayed by the community, including restricting hours of operation, the number of times TMF’s trucks can travel the easement road in any given day, re-grading and providing dust mitigation on the road, and many more.
The Planning Commissions recommendation will be taken to the Board of County Commissioners, who will ultimately make the decision as to whether TMF receives the permit.
Several other businesses are currently being run at Hither’s Edge Ranch, including children’s camps, horsemanship clinics and others. If approved, the permit would only apply to TMF.
“TM Fencing is very excited about the special use permit going through,” said Jonas Pearson. “We’re going to be very diligent with the conditions that were put forward in order for us to comply. In the future we probably will be moving to town. But it’s the principal of being able to live and work off of our land, which is why we’re here tonight. TM Fencing looks forward to a bright future.”
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