Garfield County won’t back Battlement’s ‘area of state interest’ plan
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The Battlement Mesa community did not get any help from Garfield County this week in terms of being reclassified as an “area or activity of state interest” under state laws, as a way to increase local control over plans to drill for natural gas within Battlement Mesa’s boundaries.
The county commissioners, acting on advice from their attorney, Debbie Quinn, declined to grant a request from the Battlement Concerned Citizens group (BCC), that the county use what are known as its “1041 powers” to designate the unincorporated community in such a way.
“If your goal is to eliminate natural gas [drilling],” said Commissioner John Martin, “It’s using [the 1041 statute] the wrong way. It would simply be challenged to death” by industry attorneys.
But after a request from Ron Galterio of the BCC, the county commissioners agreed to direct Quinn to work with the BCC’s attorney to see if there is some way to reconcile what Galterio called the two lawyers’ “difference of opinion” about the applicability of the 1041 statute.
The law, approved by the Colorado legislature in 1974, gives local governments the ability to designated certain kinds of development, and certain areas, as being appropriate for greater local control.
Garfield County, according to Quinn, has applied the law to itself in certain limited areas, such as the development of arterial roadways, water service infrastructure and others.
But, she wrote in her memo to the county, oil and gas development is specifically excluded from 1041 oversight. Besides which, Quinn maintained, Battlement Mesa does not qualify as a “new community” under the statute.
The community has legally been in existence since 1975, when its first approvals were granted by the county, and even if it were to incorporate itself into a municipality it would not qualify as a “new community,” Quinn maintained.
Plus, Quinn argued, its approvals have consistently recognized the right of the owner-developer, which was the Exxon Corp., to explore for minerals underneath the Planned Unit Development.
Galterio, along with BCC member Bob Arrington, countered that their attorney takes a different view of the matter, and won the commissioners’ agreement that Quinn and the BCC’s lawyer, G. Moss Driscoll of Carbondale, get together to work on the matter.
The commissioners directed Quinn to advise them as to the results of her work with Driscoll at a future meeting.
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