Encana, Grass Mesa residents in dispute about roads
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado – Homeowners on Grass Mesa say Encana Oil and Gas (USA) is not living up to its promises to keep the subdivision’s private roads in good repair.
“It’s just constantly having to battle with them to do these repairs,” said 12-year Grass Mesa homeowner Rebecca Brock.
She said company trucks have crushed culverts, worn “huge holes” in the road surface at intersections, and worn away any road base that existed.
An Encana official, however, said the company has lived up to its commitments to the Grass Mesa Homeowners Association, and then some.
“Bottom line, we believe that we’ve gone above and beyond in maintaining roads in the area uniformly, whether they are lease roads or not,” wrote Encana spokesman Doug Hock in an April 10 email to the Post Independent.
Lease roads are rights-of-way the company arranges across private land to access well pad sites.
Hock said company crews have been called out to help Grass Mesa residents who get stuck in adverse road conditions, and have done maintenance work on roads that are not officially the company’s responsibility.
“There is a fundamental disagreement about the addition of three inches of gravel on every road,” Hock noted. “We don’t believe it’s necessary or effective: The HOA disagrees.”
The dispute over road maintenance came up at an April 5 Garfield County Energy Advisory Board (EAB) meeting in Rifle.
“Grass Mesa refuses to roll over this time,” said EAB member Michael Meskin, who represents the region at energy board meetings and was speaking during his allotted comment period.
Brock, who is an alternate member of the EAB, said Grass Mesa homeowners have been dealing with Encana trucks and other vehicles since 2002, when the company began drilling for natural gas on the mesa.
In 2003, she said, the HOA approved a resolution to assess a $5,000 bond against any trip across Grass Mesa roads by vehicles weighing more than 75,000 pounds. The resolution was formally recorded with the Garfield County Clerk in 2004.
Encana, however, is refusing to recognize the resolution.
“This was never agreed to and was dropped,” Hock wrote on April 10, referring to the resolution.
“They don’t have to agree to anything,” Brock said. “It’s a resolution for all the owners up there,” She noted that Encana has purchased five lots in the Grass Mesa subdivision.
HOA board member Mike McGuire said the resolution was originally aimed at people bringing in modular homes, but it’s appropriate for heavy gas industry rigs, too.
According to McGuire, the association’s attorney has assured the homeowners that the resolution is enforceable.
Hock noted that the bond was brought up again during the April 5 EAB meeting during a discussion over adding three inches of gravel to roads on Grass Mesa.
The EAB holds monthly gatherings of energy company officials, representatives of local government and organizations, and citizen representatives from various unincorporated areas.
Formed by the Garfield County commissioners in 2004, the EAB was created as a venue to discuss industry activities, air complaints from residents about the industry, and hear educational presentations about the industry’s activities.
Kirby Wynn, the Garfield County oil and gas liaison officer, attends the EAB meetings as a staff resource, and is the county’s primary contact for any issues that crop up between the industry and residents.
Wynn told the Post Independent in an April 10 email, “I do not have information to provide regarding the roads in that area.”
Brock confirmed that the county has had no role in the dispute, stating, “The county has nothing to do with those roads up there. The association does. But we can’t afford to start putting special assessments against our homeowners to fix the roads.”
She also confirmed that the issue may end up in court, if Encana and the HOA cannot reach an agreement.
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