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January 18, 2013
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Grass Mesa HOA still locked in dispute with Encana

RIFLE, Colo. - The Grass Mesa Homeowners Association wants Encana Oil and Gas (USA) to pay $3 million to fix 10 miles of dirt roads through the subdivision, which the company uses for its natural gas drilling activities.

The Grass Mesa subdivision, started in the 1980s, occupies a large mesa two miles south of Rifle, reached by County Road 319 (West Mamm Creek Road).

Encana, one of several energy companies drilling for gas in western Garfield County, has been drilling in and around the subdivision since 2002, according to Rebecca Brock, a 13-year homeowner and member of the HOA.

HOA member Michael Meskin said the HOA sent a letter to Encana in late December 2012 containing an engineering company's estimate of $300,000 per mile, or $3 million total, to carry out the needed repairs.

Encana has not responded to letter outlining the HOA's proposal, Meskin said.

Encana spokesman Doug Hock, in an email to the Post Independent on Thursday, wrote that a response will be forthcoming "in the next few weeks."

After contacting a company attorney, Hock wrote, "We, like the HOA, would like to see this long-running dispute resolved."

The dispute, according to the homeowners, started in 2003, following the first year of drilling.

Brock said Encana originally was using the same access road to the mesa that was used by homeowners.

"They ruined that road," she said.

Encana built its own road up to the mesa and stopped using the homeowners' road, Brock said, but by then the homeowners' road required repairs that cost the HOA $140,000.

The engineers' cost estimate for the current road damage, Meskin said, came from an examination of 21 test cuts in the 10 miles of roads used by Encana.

The engineers concluded that the road had been worn down through the surface dirt and small rocks of the upper road base, to the level of the "rough base," which is made up of large stones that form a foundation for the road.

Meskin said the roads were built to county standards, with six inches of rough base, three inches of "fine" base and a dirt topping of three quarters of an inch.

But after more than a decade of Encana traffic, he said, "We're down to the bare minimum."

Because the roads are privately owned, Garfield County has not been involved in the dispute.

"The homeowners have not contacted the Garfield County commissioners about this, that I know of," said Commissioner John Martin, adding, "We can look into it."

County Manager Andrew Gorgey, contacted later, said that because the roads are private, the county has no role as a liaison or a mediator between the homeowners and Encana.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 18, 2013 12:39PM Published Jan 18, 2013 12:38PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.