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Council rejects drilling lease request

By Greg Masse

Post Independent Staff



GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A proposed oil and gas lease in South Canyon was soundly rejected by City Council Thursday. Council even went so far as to direct its staff to reject any future lease requests as soon as they are made.

Denver-based energy land lease brokerage company Contex Energy Co. submitted a proposal to the city that sought to lease 320 acres of city land in South Canyon for oil and gas exploration.



The company offered $6,400 for a five-year mineral lease on the property.

After receiving multiple phone calls from residents opposed to the proposed lease in the days before City Council’s regular meeting, several council members expressed dismay that such a proposal was even made.

“I think this would be ridiculous for us even to consider,” Councilman Dan Richardson said. “So I emphatically oppose this and I would suggest we offer Karl (Hanlon, city attorney) direction not to entertain any oil and gas leases on any city property.”

Said Councilwoman Chris McGovern, “I was also in receipt of calls with very emphatic and very volatile types of opinions on this and it was all directed at the same opinion: Don’t bring this in here,” she said.

Councilman Bruce Christensen suggested placing a moratorium on any oil and gas exploration on city property.

Jim Olp, a vigorous advocate of South Canyon and its historic treasures, spoke against ever granting a lease on any of the city’s 2,980 acres of land in South Canyon.

“Frankly, I see their proposal as an indicator of the incredible arrogance and rapaciousness of these people, that they would even propose oil and gas drilling and the resultant destruction in a city park,” Olp said.

Dave Merritt played devil’s advocate on the issue, reminding his fellow council members that while they may not like to see oil and gas development in their backyards, most of them reap its benefits every day.

“I think we do need to keep in mind that this community is dependent upon gas to bring the tourists here every day and bring the workers here every day,” he said. “We need to keep in mind that we are dependent on that and without that we would not be the tourist community that we are. We may not like the impacts of it, but we sure like the use of it.”

Despite his defense of the oil and gas industry, Merritt voted against the proposal.

“In my opinion, this was a terrible proposal,” Merritt said.

Council voted unanimously to deny the proposal and instructed the city’s staff to deny any oil and gas lease proposals before they go to council.

In other business, City Council:

– Approved a request to provide city water service to a user up Mitchell Creek and outside the city limits.

– Agreed to take applications from businesses and nonprofit organizations seeking to lease the two 620-square-foot retail spaces that will be available below the new downtown fire station.

– Approved a major development permit for Allstate Communications to locate a 4,000-square-foot outlet at 2222 Devereux Road.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

gmasse@postindependent.com


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