Military-type training grounds is locked and loaded
August 17, 2010
A proposal to build a training facility for military contractors is drawing fire from some residents in the Coalville area after a similar development application was denied this month in Duchesne County.
Several people are expected to speak out about the project at a public hearing today in Coalville. At 7 p.m., the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission is scheduled to have its first look at the proposal. The meeting is slated to occur at the Summit County Courthouse, 60 N. Main Street.
The plan calls for a 2,500-acre training facility north of Coalville. Training 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 Summit County Planner Kimber Gabryszak.
Utah-based ChamTech Enterprises has applied for a permit from Summit County to develop the facility northeast of the small, unincorporated town of Echo. The property is currently rangeland.
Training would not include the use of aircraft or explosives, Gabryszak said.
But residents in Duchesne County recently rejected a similar proposal from ChamTech. Company officials had hoped to build their training facility on 640 acres near Duchesne. The Duchesne County Planning Commission denied the application on Aug. 4 because cabins surround the location.
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"A lot of people were concerned because they bought those recreation properties to get away from it all," Duchesne County Community Development Director Mike Hyde said.
Opponents were also concerned that ChamTech would use the facility for training militia groups, he said.
"There is a growing number of militias and paramilitary groups and they were concerned that those might also take place," Hyde said.
There was standing room only at the meeting when the Duchesne County Planning Commission heard the application this month.
"People think it should probably be located out in the West Desert somewhere, where they already have military installations," Hyde said.
Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt said he is unsure what impact the training facility might have on the North Summit area.
"The economics is probably good for Coalville City, but the tranquility of life for our friends and neighbors down in Henefer and Echo needs to be considered also," Schmidt said.
ChamTech officials said they chose the East Side of Summit County as a location because the terrain resembles some of the most dangerous battlefields in the world.
ChamTech Enterprises President Eric Hernandez said the company will not train militia members.
"Everybody we train will have to pass through a local, state and federal background check," Hernandez said. "They must have some kind of legitimate reason to go through our training."