Review of Ursa plans could span several meetings
BATTLEMENT MESA — If a site visit to the two well pad sites proposed by Ursa Resources within the Battlement Mesa Planned Unit Development was any indication, it could be sometime before the Garfield County Planning Commission considers whether to approve or deny the operator’s three applications for phase one of the project.
The commission along with representatives from Ursa visited the two proposed well pad sites Tuesday, a day before the commission was scheduled to convene for the first of potentially several public hearings on the application.
They were joined by approximately 35 members of the public, some of whom had to resist the urge to ask questions, which Planning Commission Chairman Bob Fullerton instructed were to wait for Wednesday’s public hearing. The hearing was scheduled to start after press deadline.
At the end of the roughly three-hour site visit Tuesday, Fullerton, while acknowledging such a decision would need approval from the commission, said he would not be surprised if the issue is continued for a future meeting.
“My experience tells me that it will probably require two or three meetings,” he said.
Ursa representatives previously have commented on the extensive review process by the county, noting both the thickness of the applications and the expectation that the county will take its time for a thorough review.
Opponents of the plans within the PUD reaffirmed their commitment Tuesday to pack Wednesday’s public hearing and offer public testimony or cede their time to another person willing to testify.
Questions posed by planning commissioners Tuesday ranged from technical inquires on location and possible time-line, to mitigation efforts.
As far as noise mitigation, Matt Honeycutt with Ursa informed the commission that the company is constantly working to improve noise and other mitigation efforts. Ursa is currently working on a task force through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to further analyze the noise issue. A contractor is set to visit the site of the B Pad — which sits near an RV park south of the Colorado River — next week to work on best possible mitigation processes, Honeycutt said.
While a sound wall would help, it still won’t prevent noise from being audible at times, said Betsy Leonard, a Battlement resident who lives near the B Pad. Leonard worries about the health risks to residents, particularly elderly ones.
While the site visit drew a large turnout, members of the public in attendance respected the commission’s instructions, for the most part, and withheld questions — allowing members of the commission to question the operator.
However, there was one such question that did not have a definitive answer. Asked by planning commission member Greg McKennis if there was a drop dead date for Ursa to complete phase one development, Ursa representatives answered that the length of the process is dependent on a number of factors.
Primarily commodity price, said Don Simpson, vice president of business development for Ursa. “Nobody can predict that.” While the price currently is stable, a steep drop similar to that of oil could alter plans, Simpson added.
Recognizing that the issue is an emotional one, Fullerton thanked the members of the public who attended the site visit, and encouraged them to attend Wednesday’s hearing to provide testimony or ask any questions withheld during the site visit. The public comment portion would not be closed until everyone who formally expressed a desire to testify had the chance to do so, he added.
Go to postindependent.com for continued coverage of Wednesday’s public hearing.
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