Flatirons Approved to Move Forward with School, Church
Final plat approval of a new K-12 private school and church by Broomfield City Council Tuesday night brought loud cheers from members of the Flatirons Community Church.
Broomfield officials unanimously voted in favor of the move, which allows the Lafayette church to break ground on the approximately 180,000-square-foot building at the southeast corner of I-25 and County Road 8, which essentially is an extension of Erie Parkway as it traverses eastward of I-25.
The school is expected to open in 2020.
Since the property is more than two and a half miles from current Broomfield water and sanitary sewer service, council was also asked to approve an agreement between the city and Central Weld County Water District and St. Vrain Sanitation District. Agreements with both groups were considered alongside the use by special review the church underwent with the city.
Three oil and gas wells in Weld County are more than 500 feet to the southwest and north of the school building, which distance meets Broomfield’s city requirements. Church officials have said they determined the nearby oil and gas operations pose a negligible risk for the students and faculty, backed by air studies they have conducted.
Paul Brunner, executive pastor at Flatirons Community Church, walked council through the precautions the school has in place to notify parents and faculty of potential oil and gas hazards.
“We’re going to provide, every semester, this letter of informed consent for families of the kids there and for the faculty, too,” Brunner said. “It just explains what they’re stepping into — the potential hazards of these wells and taking on the risk of having their kids apart of that school.”
He wanted to go over precautions in light of council concern with setbacks since council has “worked diligently with the reverse setback,” which council discussed most recently at a Jan. 15 study session.
The school also will have a sign posted outside the building with similar safety information for visitors to the campus.
Playing fields also are part of the plan and something Mayor Randy Ahrens brought up in comments when asking about shared use with the city. Brunner said the church and city haven’t come to an agreement, but since Flatirons wants to be part of the community, it would consider an arrangement.
About 40 people came to support the project, including a few parents of future students who were pleased with the church’s safety findings and appreciated the transparency they’ve exhibited. The fact the wells have already been drilled, and are processed at a different site because of the closed-loop system in place, also assuaged fears.
Petroleum engineer John Herring, who lives in Lafayette, offered to answer council questions and talked about how the wells in question were drilled four years ago.
He said no company has tried to re-frack in horizontal wells in the Wattenberg gas field. Some have tried with vertical wells, he said, but without much success.
Since the majority of oil is extracted during the original fracking, and taking into consideration thousands of acres yet to be drilled in Colorado, he predicted oil and gas companies will be spending the next 10 to 20 years not worrying about re-fracking old sites.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Guyleen Castriotta said she wasn’t sure she could support the resolutions if this was a public school, but since families seemed to be behind the project, she voted in favor.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Kimberly Groom asked about evacuation plans and urged school officials to follow-through with how they would react in an oil and gas emergency instead of retrofitting a plan later.
When all phases are complete, Flatirons expects student population around 1,100 students. The school is proposed to be built in phases with the first phase housing middle school students, the second phase high school students, and the final phase will be for elementary level students.
Flatirons Academy is purchasing property from the Roland Bury Estate. The property was originally in Weld County until 2001 when it was annexed into Broomfield.
Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, email@example.com or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios