UPDATE: Notes from the Over the River county meetings

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Fremont County's decision as to if it would grant Over the River a temporary event permit has been pushed back a month.

Though still on the agenda for today's meeting, Over the River spokesperson Miles Graham says the county is expected to delay consideration on the permit until its March 13 or 27 meetings, due to Over the River's new projected dates of display, which were recently rescheduled for August 2015.

——- ORIGINAL POST, 5:55 P.M., FRIDAY ——-

Both sides stated their case and felt heard. Now it's out of their hands.

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  • Wolfgang Volz, Christo

Wednesday and Thursday's public hearings in Cañon City and Cotopaxi were productive and filled to the hilt, according to Over the River spokesperson Miles Graham and Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR) vice president Ellen T. Bauder. Even though Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude's Over the River installation has received a green light from the Bureau of Land Management, it must still obtain temporary event permits from Fremont and Chaffee counties.

Graham estimates there were more than 100 people at each meeting. As far as those who spoke, Graham says in Cañon City it was 2-to-1 for the project. (Organizations who spoke in favor of the project include Action 22, as well as Blake Milteer from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.) In Cotopaxi, it was about 50-50, but as they expected, he says.

For her part, Bauder says it would be impossible to tell how many at the meetings were for or against — beyond those wearing T-shirts OTR handed out.

Bauder was struck by the 15-some officers from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office in attendance at the Cañon City hearings. "I was kind of taken aback. It was like walking into a, I don't know, the hearing of a major criminal or something. It was just a spooky feeling."

She doesn't know why so many were there (only a handful were at the Cotopaxi hearing), but it highlighted the concern of one county resident who pointed out that with so much law enforcement in one place, the rest of the county was probably left unprotected. Same thing could crop up should the project happen.

Fremont County commissioners will continue to collect written public comment through 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, and then table the issue, possibly working on conditions, until their end-of-the-month public meeting, Graham says.

What they will say, neither Graham nor Bauder will speculate, but it could be a flat-out "no" or a "yes, with conditions." If rejected, Graham won't say how it will affect the project, but it would mark a significant victory for Bauder and ROAR.

Should Fremont accept, OTR will then move onto Chaffee County for the same permit approval process. Chaffee will vote on its updated temporary event permit process next week, Graham says, at which point OTR will begin to apply for that county's permit.

For more information on OTR and Fremont County, visit fremontcountyotr.com. Comments may be submitted to (planning@fremontco.com and cc: bocc@fremontco.com)

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