Firm may train military contractors near Echo
August 6, 2010
A Utah firm that formed this year wants to build a 2,500-acre military training facility north of Coalville. The applicant claims that the North Summit area is attractive because it resembles some of the most dangerous battlefields in the world.
"The terrain there is very similar to Afghanistan," Summit County planner Kimber Gabryszak said.
Chamtech Enterprises is seeking a permit from Summit County to develop the facility northeast of the unincorporated town of Echo, a few miles from Henefer. The remote property is currently rangeland and county officials would need to approve a long-term temporary use permit for Chamtech to legally develop the training area. No new structures would be built on the property.
Exercises would "focus on in-the-field military training, including vehicle and sniper training, use of communications equipment, surveillance and counter surveillance techniques for small groups," according to Gabryszak.
The training would not include the use of aircraft or explosives, she said.
Gabryszak said the land is owned by Tyland LLC, a company operated by Oakley resident Tiny Woolstenhulme.
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People can speak out about the proposal at a public hearing in Coalville on Aug. 18. The hearing before the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission begins at the County Courthouse at 7 p.m.
The site for the training area is located on a dirt road.
"You need an all-terrain vehicle to get up there," Gabryszak said. "They’re not proposing improving the road as part of their application."
Officials are concerned that emergency vehicles would not be able to access the area if there is a fire.
Meanwhile, Echo resident Frank Cattelan said he fears the training area would impact the rural character of the town.
"There is a lot of history up in that area," Cattelan said. "If we get a lot more people, we’ll get a lot more problems up there. I don’t know if there are going to be any positives about it or not."
Summit County Councilwoman Sally Elliott said she wants to make sure the training area does not significantly impact wildlife.
"I need to find out what kind of training is being done there," Elliott said. "I need to know a lot more about it."
Though some firms have come under fire from anti-war activists who oppose training more private security officers to support American troops overseas, planning commissioners may not let their opinions about the war influence their decision.
"It’s a land-use decision," Elliott said.
But similar proposals have not been embraced in other communities.
"We were working on doing this in some different states and the press got a hold of it and the public went crazy," Chamtech Enterprises partner Anthony Sutera said. "They didn’t understand what it was about and it turned into a big disaster. It’s a low-key thing we’re trying to put together without causing a whole bunch of public outcry."
Chamtech Enterprises partner Eric Hernandez said he has a military background with extensive experience traveling throughout the world.
"We’re going to train executive officers and presidents of companies and so forth. Anyone who travels is welcome to come by. We’ll tailor the training to whatever your requirements are," Hernandez said. "We do the research behind the countries that they’ll be visiting."
Higher elevations and the characteristics of the land make the property near Echo Canyon an ideal location for the facility, he explained.
"The contractors that are going over to support the military, they do require a certain amount of training in areas similar to the areas they are going to be in," Hernandez said. "Their lives are at stake sometimes."
He said he expects the training area to be operational in September if the permit is approved. Most of his clients will likely have jobs in the private sector or law enforcement.
"It will actually boost the economy," Hernandez said. "We’re going to try to use outside resources as much as possible for the dining and the lodging."