Commissioners bless concept of land company
Harlan Hansen got the blessing of the Garfield County Commissioners this week for the Western Colorado Land Purchase Corp.With that, Hansen said he hopes to convince Club 20 to “take it and run with it,” in building a company that would purchase private land targeted for natural gas development.Hansen, the chairman of the county Energy Advisory Board, came up with the idea from conversations with landowners in the western end of the county who are worried that their land values will plummet because of gas drilling. Although people who own their mineral rights can make out handsomely from royalties from natural-gas extraction, people who own only the surface “are left out of the economic loop” and are “forced to live with sometimes unpaid or insufficient payment of damages to their land, and in some cases, a reduction in value of their property,” Hansen said.”I’ve talked to some landowners who believe their land values have been cut in half,” he added.Hansen also got a nod from the EAB earlier this year.”I really like this concept,” said County Commissioner Trési Houpt. “It seems very practical.”Initially, the company would be funded by a sale of 100,000 shares of stock at $5 a share. Hansen said that would raise $500,000.The corporation would purchase land from people who did not own their mineral rights and who then would receive a fair price for their property, he said.”Hopefully, energy companies would purchase very large amounts of common stock,” Hansen said.During gas drilling, the land would be rented or leased “to qualified renters with a standard sharecroppers agreement,” he said. Income from operations on the land, and any damages gas development companies paid would be paid to shareholders. After all drilling operations were discontinued, the land would go up for sale, with the sale price paid to the shareholders. When all the property was sold the corporation would cease to exist, Hansen said.Although he endorsed Hansen’s idea, Commissioner Larry McCown was emphatic that “No public money will be involved in this.”
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