Ursa hearing moved to Battlement Mesa Nov. 14 | PostIndependent.com

Ursa hearing moved to Battlement Mesa Nov. 14

After the Garfield County Planning Commission approved of Ursa Resources' six applications for oil and gas developments within the Battlement Mesa residential area last week, there was only one place left for operating company's proposal to go: to the desk of the county commissioners. On Monday, the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners decided a hearing will be held in Battlement Mesa on Nov. 14 regarding the applications, which will be continued in Glenwood Springs the following day.

The project includes applications for 55 natural gas wells to be drilled at two well pads in the unincorporated residential area, a small injection well at one of the pads, a natural gas pipeline associated with both pads and a temporary water storage facility.

Ursa owns mineral rights under the 5,000-person community and last year won Garfield County and state approval to drill for natural gas inside the Battlement Mesa housing area. Since then, the company has looked into placing an injection well within the planned unit development to dispose of wastewater more efficiently than trucking it away, a proposal that continues to receive heavy criticism.

With extensive public testimony expected, the board elected to hold the hearing in Battlement Mesa, making it easier for affected residents to attend. After Ursa's application to the Planning Commission took seven hours and two hearings to complete, the board also wanted to ensure it would have plenty of time for presentations, questions and testimony.

Commissioner John Martin expressed a desire to allow for a full day of testimony in Battlement Mesa.

He suggested that the commissioners start in Battlement Mesa at a large facility to allow for as much testimony as needed. They agreed that the Parachute library would fit their needs.

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"We will go as long as we have testimony and then we will continue [in Glenwood Springs] so the folks down here can give testimony as well," Martin said.

The rest of the commission agreed.

"I want to thank the commissioners for considering to move the hearing to Battlement Mesa as you did for the approval of phase I," said Battlement Mesa resident Betsy Leonard. "Phase II is as important or more important."

Martin added that other residents from Battlement Mesa requested that the hearing be moved closer to home earlier Monday morning as well.

In addition, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky expressed interest in doing a site visit before the November hearing. But as Deputy County Manager Fred Jarman explained, in order to keep the record intact, all three commissioners must go on a site visit or none can go. This ensures each one takes in the same information as part of the active testimony for the record.

The site visit will be recorded, and the public is welcome to attend; however, public testimony will not be taken during the site visit. Only members of the board can ask questions for clarification, not testimony.

The Board of County Commissioners will coordinate with Ursa about when a site visit would be possible, which the board hopes to confirm by next Monday.

Notice of publication for the Nov. 14 hearing will be posted by next week. The board will also notify the public of when the site visit will take place when that is determined.

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