Letters to the editor
Battlement concerns dismissed
The current struggle in Battlement Mesa involves a new dimension that is being felt in other Colorado communities.
An oil and gas operator wishes to drill within close proximity to residential homes. Immediately, issues involving health, safety and well-being arise. The well-being is primarily involved with “nuisances.” Nuisances involve noise, odors, fumes, vibration, lights, dust and flaring. But there are the other effects such as damaged infrastructure, property values and crime.
Health and safety involves toxic vapors of chemicals, hydrocarbons/volatile organic compounds (VOCs)/hydrogen sulfide, particulates, fires, explosions, blowouts, pipeline failures, transport spills, traffic hazards and evacuation to catastrophic accident spread. In most of these issues, one of the most important practical solutions is mitigation of the threats to health, safety and well-being by increased distance from the drill sites to homes.
Other communities have negotiated this distance with operators because the technology has advanced to accommodate further offset drilling, but here in Battlement, it has been dismissed. So far, the only reason seems to be the added cost, as other explanations appear to be very questionable. There are already sites built that could be used to drill to the remaining gas resources, but the operator is looking at five new sites, through the middle of Battlement, that allow shorter drilling reach (less cost) with lesser equipment (smaller rigs).
The operator has not given a comprehensive plan for the entire project nor submitted adequate mitigations and safety needs to address concerns of residents of Battlement.
These were some of the shortcomings to the application for special use permitting that Battlement citizens addressed in the first Garfield County Planning Commission meeting.
A dream — minus gas wells
When we purchased a home in Battlement Mesa, it was marketed as the Colorado dream for retirees, a community that offered rolling hills, majestic views and serenity. We were shown a topographical map depicting BM Co.’s vision for future development. That map and vision did not depict gas wells.
We purchased a home with covenants that claimed to protect us from noise, lights, noxious odors and obnoxious neighbors. Now we are told those covenants apply to us, but not to the open space or neighboring gas wells proposed 700 feet away. Isn’t that analogous to telling me I can’t have a hazardous waste dump in my front yard but my neighbor can?
Gas wells have no place in a “planned” residential community. Approval of this special use permit will subject each resident to an increased risk of fire, toxic odors or some other devastating industrial accident such as those reported nearly weekly in our local newspapers.
Why is Ursa’s profit-and-loss statement more important than our health, our safety, our community, our investment?
The Planning Commission and our county commissioners need to do what is right — to stand up for the rights of the residents of Battlement Mesa and ensure that the promises made to us are kept, that the covenants protecting our villages are kept and the promise of the Colorado dream is kept by denying this permit to drill in the Planned Unit Development. Our lives matter. Our safety matters. Our health matters. Our community matters.
Nuisance equals proposal rejection
The Garfield County Planning Commission is to vote Oct. 28 on whether to allow a two- to possibly five-year industrial nuisance to begin operations within the boundaries of Battlement Mesa neighborhoods. The nuisance is Ursa Resources’ proposal to construct and operate two pads now (with 53 wells drilled under our homes) leading to a future total of five pads.
This totals 190-plus wells drilled under our homes and a connecting pipeline within the Planned Unit Development of Battlement Mesa and our residential neighborhoods. That’s three pads within residential neighborhoods and two pads at Battlement Mesa golf course. The pipeline would be located within mere yards of many homes and, if it were not for a property line fence, in their back yards. Battlement Mesa is a Garfield County unincorporated residential community, not a city or town. We have only the county Planning Commission and the Garfield County commissioners to protect the peace and sanctity of our residential neighborhoods.
Garfield County officials have already stated for the record, in their own official documents (Exhibit L – Oil and Gas Liaison Report) that these drilling activities “can cause significant nuisance impacts to nearby residents.” Drilling in our residential neighborhoods is a clear and obvious nuisance. It will cause significant and troubling impacts of noise and vibration pollution, light pollution and air pollution causing years of possible health issues for the hundreds of elderly and retired residents who reside, most importantly, within 450 to 900 yards from the drill pad sites. Beyond that distance, there would also be notable and observable incidents of the above-noted nuisances affecting thousands of our residents. These health issues would be hostilely prevalent and relevant during the two to five years of drilling and would likely linger in our impinged bodies for years thereafter, if not forever.
Current policy states nuisance equals proposal rejection.
Living in fear of the county community development director’s recommendation to approve the proposal, I admonish and beg the planning commissioners to vote no.
Welcoming drugs in our community is a bonehead move
Here, on the Western Slope, I can’t seem to find a local newspaper that doesn’t have at least one drug related crime story within, since legalized marijuana businesses have established themselves in these communities.
The Post Independent headline for 10/2 is: “Glenwood felonies up 36% for year”. In this article, Police Chief Terry Wilson attributes a nationwide trend in disrespect towards authority, specifically towards police. The chief goes on to stem it from a mentality towards cops from events in Baltimore as a cause. Myself, I’m disgusted with the malice directed at police as a whole by some groups.
This article goes on to cite Wilson, “drug use is a common thread in both violent incidents and property crimes. If you want to be high and that is your primary goal, you’ve got to come up with the money somehow.”
I went ATVing two weekends ago with some guys, two which were cops. They both said burglaries were up and now it is seldom a mystery who committed the crime. Since pot was permitted in Colorado, the usual suspects are drug addicted sons or daughters stealing from their own parents home with and without accomplices. When filling out the police reports the parents/burglary victims say, “Yeah, we know who did it.”
Addiction is real and it is ugly whether it’s pot on its own or as a gateway drug. Statistics show that a far higher rate of those who use pot, compared to those that consume alcohol, go onto try then become addicted to other drugs. Look those stats up or talk to a friend or parent of a drug abuser if you want a more firsthand account. We can expect to see continued crime rate increases as more people become addicted to pot. Pro-pot activist will tell you the opposite is true and offer propaganda to support it. If the weatherman says it’s sunny and dry outside but you have mud on you boots and rain falling on your head from dark skies, whatchya gonna go with? I’m going to go with what I see unfolding, what I witness all around me, what I know to be true. I say it’s raining outside and the stoners are… you know it, they’re stoned.
As I’ve stated in earlier letters, I generally say – to each, their own. I respect the rights and liberties of the individual. Having said that, your rights stop where they infringe on mine. All of us in this valley are now more likely to be the victim of a crime since, one by one, these local communities allow pot. Besides crime and even more important is the influence and the future prospects of our youth with pot being portrayed as acceptable. Then there’s things like property values, the inescapable stench of pot in small communities, etc. Prior indicators and surmounting evidence shows society can’t handle pot, legal or not. Legalizing marijuana has only multiplied, magnified, and compounded problems that come with pot. No surprise there and no bragging rights to anyone who was able to predict this inevitable outcome that came with legalization.
The passage of pot here in Parachute sounds eerily similar to the passage of pot in our neighboring towns as I’ve heard in incidental conversation. Out of town drug dealers entice city officials to be participants in the marijuana business and they actually go for it despite the loud and ongoing protests of the citizens they are supposed to be representing. Parachute’s Home Rule Charter emphasizes a government of the people. This is being discarded. I think Parachute town officials have blatantly abused their positions and done so repeatedly in recent months. Politician’s posts shouldn’t be wholly self serving , but too often, that’s apparently what you get whether it’s a large or small scale politician. Just like cops, there’s good and bad. Although, I’d argue the ratio of good cops to bad cops blows the politician good/bad ratio out of the water. It’s waned just about out of existence but I still have hope (being a past town trustee) that our town officials see and rectify the recent errors and decisions they’ve made.
MAJOR INTERJECTION – Excellent job, kudos, and way to go, to Derek Wingfield, Town of Parachute staff, security personnel, volunteers, and anyone else who was responsible for Parachute’s Oktoberfest event. It was big fun for adults and kids. The bands were excellent. I had about given up on country music then whoa!…. Brothers Osborne opened up on stage and delivered! For two days, family and friends had a blast. I recommend typing it into your phone, or going out now, yes right now, buy a 2016 calendar and schedule in the next Parachute Oktoberfest.
Now let’s go back to the same 10/2 Post Independent article. Quoting District Attorney Sherry Caloia: “she also suspected increased drug use as a factor behind some of the more severe crimes.” Also according to Caloia: “Lock your doors, close your windows, don’t leave stuff in your cars, and keep track of your mail.” I can see it’s been raining.
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