Letter: Commission has surrendered land-use authority
As a former Garfield County commissioner and state oil and gas commissioner (COGCC), I feel compelled to respond to the article in the July 25 Post Independent, “Sullivan Critical of County’s Revision for O&G Facilities.” I agree with Mr. Sullivan’s concerns and I am outraged.
By adopting a regulation that makes all “on- and off-pad” facilities a “use by right,” Commissioners Jankovsky, Martin and Samson have taken away our rights as property owners in Garfield County to formally challenge industrial activity that will impact our land values, businesses and quality of life. They are blatantly disregarding their oath of office.
The Garfield County commissioners have completely surrendered their land-use authority to the oil and gas industry. In effect, they have said “any and all uses of land in Garfield County for purposes related to oil and gas activity, no matter what impacts they may have on others, are acceptable and we don’t even need to listen to those that may think otherwise.”
County commissions and the COGCC play very different roles in Colorado. The COGCC is responsible for regulating the technical side of developing oil and gas and counties are responsible for regulating land use. Typically in Colorado, County land-use codes require an application process for the establishment of facilities that support drilling. In most cases a public hearing is required, allowing an opportunity for the public to voice their support or concerns. These facilities include; compressor stations, water treatment facilities, tanks, pipelines, roads and any other facility supporting development. But by making all “on- and off-pad” facilities a “use by right,” the Garfield County commissioners have eliminated any opportunity for residents to formally voice their concerns.
It is time for responsible leadership in Garfield County. We need a county commission that will represent all of its constituents: individuals; landowners; business owners; the agricultural, recreational and tourism industries; royalty owners; and the oil and gas industry — not just the oil and gas industry.
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