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Council Wants Staff-level Meeting with COGCC on New Applications

August 15, 2018 GMT

Broomfield City Council approved a resolution directing staff to request a hearing with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on all new drilling and spacing unit applications in the city.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, members also voted to hold a study session on two ordinances — one establishing a procedure for residents to report nuisance complaints if they are not pleased with staff findings and to have a director review such complaints at an informal hearing.

The second ordinance concerns changing language requiring all new surface developments be no closer than 1,320 feet from an existing well unless there is written notice and informed, written consent from each property purchaser and owner

Council voted unanimously July 10 to amend sections of the municipal code regarding oil and gas regulations with the understanding that it would revisit the items.

In general, the regulations ensure that oil and gas facilities are designed, modified, commissioned, constructed, equipped, operated, maintained, suspended, and abandoned in a manner that prioritizes the protection of human health, safety, and welfare.

Kyle Harris, general manager of development company McWhinney representing the Baseline project at east Baseline Road and Sheridan Parkway, made comments on the 1320-foot setback regulations and asked council to clear up some “vagueness” with the language and consider the potential for unintended consequences.

Ward 4 Councilman Kevin Kreeger, during council comments, addressed Harris’ concerns by saying the regulation would not preclude his company, or others, from new construction projects. Using the proposed STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math) school at Baseline as an example, Kreeger said it is hard to believe developers wouldn’t already know about the oil and gas projects proposed for the area, and it is hard to believe they would change their mind about investing in the project.

Several council members, including Ward 4 Councilwoman Kimberly Groom and Ward 1 Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans, had reservations about the nuisance-hearing process.

Law-Evans thought the process was “a solution looking for a problem” by having residents escalate a complaint after staff has investigated the issue. If staff members are failing in their duties, then such an ordinance may be necessary, she said, but for now she feels council would be adding a regulation when there is no problem.

Groom said while she understands the concept of grievance hearings, she disagrees with the way the ordinance is worded . She worried about the amount of time department directors would spend on the process and wanted more detail on the layout of the process.

She also didn’t understand how residents could argue with city officials, who will test with sophisticated equipment to take measurements and gather data, when those residents lack similar equipment.

“They don’t have the equipment to combat our measurements,” she said.

Ultimately, council decided the items needed more discussion, including input from residents and developers.

Council also approved a resolution that all form 2 and 2A permit applications and spacing applications be placed on city council’s agenda for the next business meeting, once filed with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. At that council meeting, members may receive staff and public input concerning potentially significant adverse impacts to public health, safety and welfare and could lead to Broomfield to file a request for a hearing with the COGCC.

Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, riosj@broomfieldenterprise.com or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios