Eagle County commissioners can’t stand the squawking
EMMA – A nationally-renowned sanctuary for parrots and other exotic birds came within a feather of being ordered out of the Roaring Fork Valley yesterday.Two of the three Eagle County Commissioners were preparing to vote against issuing a special permit that would have allowed the Gabriel Foundation to continue operating in Emma. They said the squawking birds make too much noise.Representatives of the foundation averted disaster by asking that the issue be tabled to allow them to get an independent assessment of their plan to reduce the noise.The commissioners granted the reprieve but chairman Tom Stone and board member Michael Gallagher warned that noise was just one problem they had with the proposal. They warned they might not vote to issue the permit even if the noise is abated.Stone said he just didn’t think an exotic bird sanctuary was compatible with the Emma area. He noted that the noise emanating from the property while the birds were in outside cages was “undesirable and unacceptable” for a rural area. The screeching produced while the birds were allowed to exercise and soak in the sun outside went on at an annoying level from 8:40 a.m. to 2:40 p.m., according to a study.Stone noted that the Eagle County master plan, a guiding document for land uses, contemplates keeping the Emma area rural.”I don’t think this is Colorado rural in nature,” Stone said of the sanctuary. “It’s not. These birds are natural to the area.”The foundation’s application proposes capping the number of birds at 250. Gallagher noted that noise levels were found to be unacceptable at a time when only 154 birds were on site. He strongly suggested that the foundation rethink the maximum number of birds it would allow on the property.Foundation attorney Hal Dishler indicated that would be acceptable. “It’s better to have 170 than zero,” he said.The commissioners rescheduled a hearing for Sept. 7 to give the foundation time for an analysis on its noise abatement plan, but Stone and Gallagher repeatedly warned the issue is bigger than noise alone.
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