Plans to move forward with offering air tours of Gateway took a hit Tuesday, after the Mesa County Planning Commission narrowly voted the proposal down.
Tuesday, the Planning Commission held a special meeting at the Gateway Community Center, to decide whether or not to recommend approval of a conditional use permit that would allow the air tours to take place. In a 4-3 vote, commissioners recommended denying the permit.
John Hendricks, the founder of Discovery Channel and owner of Gateway Canyons Resort, was asking the county to let him use the private runway at his Gateway home to launch air and helicopter tours of Gateway.
During the meeting, representatives for Hendricks said the tours would add to the experience of guests at the resort -- and said they only planned on doing 40 such tours at the most each month.
But several Gateway residents say the tours would take away from the experience of living in their ranching and mining community. They say the planes and helicopters would bring unwanted noise to the area, that would be amplified by the canyon walls surrounding the town -- and they're also worried about safety issues and the potential of aircraft crashing.
"It absolutely destroys the peace and quiet on our property," said Susan Bowes, a Gateway resident who spoke out against the proposal. "I think other options are available to Hendricks to put his air strip elsewhere."
"We want to get people out to see this God given country out here," said John Williams, a representative for Mr. Hendricks.
Although the commission voted the proposal down, the final decision lies with the Mesa County Commissioners.
During Tuesday night's meeting, county staff told the Planning Commission they felt the proposal met all the criteria it needed to pass.