Regulation Amendments Go Forward to First Reading at August 14 Council Meeting

At the July 17 Council Study Session, Council agreed to have three amendments to the newly adopted oil and gas regulations go forward in their preferred forms for a first reading at the August 14 Council Meeting.   In order to pass the regulations on July 10, there had been a compromise reached to hold a study session and first reading on these amendments.

The proposed amendments on the July 17 agenda included:

1) A procedure for residents to report nuisance complaints about oil and gas developments

2) A request from the City to the COGCC for a public hearing on relevant Form 2A and Form 2 drilling permits

3) An increase to 1,320 foot setbacks for new surface developments from existing oil and gas wells

These amendments will be back on the City Council agenda for first reading on August 14.  You can email your comments to Council before the August 14 Council Meeting at council@broomfieldcitycouncil.org

1) A procedure for residents to report nuisance complaints about oil and gas developments

Regarding the amendment for nuisance complaint processing, the majority of Council chose Option A which leaves it up to each City department to develop its own hearing procedure, instead of Option B which had a procedure outlined for all departments.  In her introductory remarks, Director of Special Initiatives Tami Yellico stated that the Staff preferred Option A to give them more flexibility.  Council Member Shaff stated that the department director implementing Option A should be given some parameters to guarantee resident due process.  Council Member Shelton supported some “hardwired” timelines for limiting the length of time that an investigation by Staff could take.

Council Member Law-Evans broke the hearing process into the four steps of a resident reporting the violation, the Staff investigating it, the City enforcement of any violation, and a possible appeal by a resident or operator.  She stated that since she had “faith in the responsiveness of Broomfield staff” that she expected most of the Staff’s resources to be dedicated to enforcement of violations and not the appeals process.  Council Member Jezerski asked if the appeals process would be open to the operator also and the answer from City and County of Broomfield (CCOB) Attorney Sullivan was yes.

Council Member Shaff asked that the hearing process be opened to “all affected persons” and not just Broomfield residents.  After some discussion, Mayor Ahrens said he also supported including “all affected persons” with the hope that Erie would offer Broomfield residents impacted by the Acme Pad the same opportunity.

Council Member Kreeger pointed out that residents “are watching Erie” and know that they want more transparency than appears to be in Erie’s complaint process.  Council Member Castriotta asked if the City could take the infrared camera monitor out to Broomfield land adjacent to the Coyote Trails Pad to investigate complaints at this Extraction pad now.

Council Member Shelton asked the legal staff to explain how they anticipated the burden of proof would be implemented.  CCOB Attorney Sullivan said that was hard to predict without knowing the types of incidents at this point, so he would prefer “to try something and see if we need to tweak it later.”  Both Council Members Shelton and Law-Evans stated that they would prefer to wait to develop the process until the first complaints were lodged.  Council Member Shelton also insisted that complaints could only be filed citing a certain provision in the Use by Review or Operator Agreement that had been violated in order to prevent excessive complaints.

Director of Special Services Tami Yellico stated that the City was developing an online reporting system to facilitate resident input of required violation information.  She stated that only summary information, not every complaint’s detail, would be available on the website and would be given to Council.

2) A standard request from the City to the COGCC for a public hearing on relevant Form 2A and Form 2 drilling permits

The amendment to be brought forth on August 14 will require a standing agenda item for Council to determine if a COGCC hearing should be requested on both spacing unit applications and drilling permits (Form 2 and 2A).  The July 17 agenda document had noted that there is a very short COGCC time frame to request a hearing which might have made a standard hearing request preferable, but Council Member Kreeger won supporters with his argument that the City overusing its right to protest would undermine its credibility with the COGCC.  Council Member Shelton agreed with Council Member Kreeger and asked Staff if that meant that special Council meetings might have to be scheduled.  The Staff answered yes, due to the tight release of information and scheduling at the COGCC.

Amendments #1 and #2 were originally supported by 301 Broomfield Health and Safety First.  Council Member Kreeger brought these amendments forward at the July 10 Meeting.

3) An increase to 1,320 foot setbacks for new surface developments from existing oil and gas wells

The increase to 1,320 foot setbacks for new construction were recommended by the Legal Subcommittee of the Oil and Gas Task Force and would require an update to the Municipal Code.  Council Member Castriotta proposed this amendment at the July 10 meeting and strongly endorsed it at the July 17 Study Session.

In response to the idea that setback distances could be waived by individual owners with informed, written consent, Council Member Castriotta argued against that loophole by asking, “Are we going to give up all our rights?”  She endorsed Council Member Shaff’s request to the legal staff that they investigate other court cases related to increased setbacks for new construction and report back to Council in Executive Session.

Council Member Law-Evans asked if only the first sale would require consent.  Assistant City Manager Standbridge stated that on subsequent sales it would come up on a title search but no resigning would be required.

Again, you can email your comments to Council before the August 14 Council Meeting at council@broomfieldcitycouncil.org