Arapahoe County seeks public input for oil and gas regulations

Bryan Weimer, Arapahoe County Director of Public Works and Development, explains that the county’s policy is to take a balanced approach to regulating the oil and gas industry to Bruce Rewerts, member of the City of Centennial Planning and Zoning Commission and Carrie Warren-Bully of the Littleton Public Schools Board. Photos by Freda Miklin
BY FREDA MIKLIN GOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On Jan. 23 representatives of Arapahoe County held a public workshop at the department of motor vehicles building at 6954 S. Lima Street in Centennial to share information and get input from residents about what topics and issues should be addressed in the county’s oil and gas regulations, planned for adoption in late spring or early summer. Colorado Senate Bill 181, signed into law on April 16, 2019, provides that local governments may now regulate oil and gas development and operations “in a manner that protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.” As a result, Arapahoe County will amend its land development code to include new regulations for oil and gas operations in the unincorporated (not within the boundaries of a city, like Aurora or Centennial) parts of the county for the stated purpose of protecting health, safety, and welfare as noted above.
Nearly 50 people came to the public input meeting. Commissioner Jeff Baker (in blue suit) and Luc Hatlestad (in green jacket), public information officer for Arapahoe County, answered residents’ questions.
Currently, there are 71 wells producing, six wells drilling or completing, 142 wells permitted, and 83 pending permit applications, along with three pipelines under construction in unincorporated Arapahoe County. County officials are asking the public to rate issues related to oil and gas operations as to priority. Some of those issues are light and noise produced by operations, visual appearance, odors, effect on wildlife, and traffic impacts of operators’ vehicles coming and going. The county has already conducted small-group meetings with some stakeholders, including emergency services providers, industry representatives, state agencies, cities, utility companies, and home builders.
Dan Donegan, zoning inspector and Jason Reynolds, current planning program manager of Arapahoe County Public Works and Development show display of potential issues and solutions in regulating the oil and gas industry.
Draft regulations for comment are planned for public presentation in March. Public hearings on the proposed regulations will be conducted by the county’s planning commission and the Board of County Commissioners in April and May, after which they will be adopted. Jason Reynolds, current planning program manager in the public works and development department, told The Villager that the county’s goal is to “allow for a robust energy industry while protecting health and safety.” Both Reynolds and Bryan Weimer, public works and development director, emphasized the county’s strong focus on a highly balanced approach, while stressing the goal of minimizing the impact of oil and gas operations on nearby properties and local infrastructure.
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