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Nestlé Waters North America will pay for a hydrologist and water court expert attorney to review Nestlé’s 1041 application renewal for Chaffee County.

Chaffee County commissioners unanimously approved use of funds Tuesday and the county will select these experts.

County Attorney Jennifer Davis explained to commissioners that a reimbursement fund, with a current balance of about $170,000, was set up during the original 1041 application from Nestlé in 2009 so tax payers would not have to fund those expenses.

Nestlé reimbursed the county in 2009 for experts to the amount of $122,890.

Commissioners considered what or where would be the best venue to hold the public hearings for the Nestlé 1041 application.

The hearing dates were originally set for Oct. 20.

Some of the ideas proposed include:

• Holding the entire process on-line via Zoom meeting.

• Holding the first part of the hearing, between the commissioners and Nestlé, online via Zoom, and re-posting it on YouTube, then holding one meeting of hearings at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds.

• Holding two public hearing meetings, one during the day and one at night, at the fairground.

• Postpone all hearings until COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings are lifted.

Commissioners agreed to continue this discussion until their Sept. 8 meeting, to allow time to look at the different options.

In other business, commissioners agreed to continue the appeal hearing for the Lark Spur major subdivision preliminary plan at the request of the applicant.

Commissioner Greg Felt said that this hearing could be a “trial run” for the Nestlé hearing and is tentatively scheduled for October.

Joseph Teipel, with the Chaffee County Community Foundation, requested the county partner with the foundation to allocate Coronavirus relief funds to support local non-profit groups and a program to help parents cover costs relating to school closures, kids sent home and remote learning.

Teipel said the total project budget, for both programs, would be an estimated $150,000 and that he has also talked to the Buena Vista trustees and Salida council members.

Felt said he thought the foundation was doing a good job and commended them for the work they have been doing during the pandemic, but pointed out that unlike Salida and Buena Vista, the county is using their relief fund money to help support public health, human services and emergency medical services departments.

Teipel agreed those programs do need to be supported, but said he had talked with Andrea Carlstrom, public health director, who said she supported the foundation’s idea.

Commissioners agreed to table the matter until the Sept. 8 meeting to consider it and let the finance department look at the numbers.

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