Reverse Setback Notification Passes First Reading But Citizen Hearing Returned to Study Session

 

With both Council Members Tessier and Jezerski absent from the January 22 Council Meeting, the reverse setback notification ordinance passed first reading but the citizen hearing ordinance was once again returned to Study Session.  These two amendments were first introduced on July 10 at the time of passage of the oil and gas regulations.  The public hearing and second reading of the reverse setback notification is set for March 12 and the Study Session date for the citizen hearing was not announced.

 

The vote to CONTINUE Ordinance No. 2075 Amending the Oil and Gas Regulations to Add a Hearing Process was 5-3 with:

Yes – Council Members Beacom, Castriotta, Groom, Law-Evans, Shelton

No – Council Members Erickson, Kreeger, Shaff

Absent – Council Members Jezerski, Tessier

The vote for first reading of Ordinance No. 2076 Amending the Broomfield Subdivision Regulations to Increase Setbacks from Oil and Gas Wells was 6-2 with:

Yes – Council Members Castriotta, Erickson, Groom, Kreeger, Law-Evans, Shaff

No – Council Members Beacom, Shelton

Absent – Council Members Jezerski, Tessier

Ordinance 2075 – Council Comments on Citizen Hearing 

Ordinance No. 2075 – Amending Chapter 17-54 to Provide for a Nuisance/Resident Hearing Process – would provide that if an affected party (Broomfield resident or person within 2640 feet of an oil and gas facility) receives an unsatisfactory response to an oil and gas complaint from the City regarding a violation of an operator agreement, use by special review permit or municipal code, the affected party may file an appeal for a hearing.  The ordinance states the required contents of the appeal, a 30 day deadline for filing after the City’s response, a 30 day deadline for issuance of the decision, and usage of either a department head or hearing officer appointed by the City and County Manager.

Council Member Law-Evans began Council comments by stating twice that she intended to support this ordinance going forward to second reading.  In her initial comments, she repeated her previous idea from January 15 that she thought there could be a small filing fee, but she stated that could be added before second reading.

Council Member Shelton said he would probably not be voting for the ordinance but proposed that a citizen board be used for the hearing process as opposed to hiring outside counsel.  Council Member Kreeger later commented that he had discussed that with Staff where Staff’s concern was that citizens would not know how to conduct a hearing or have legal authority to provide relief.  Both Council Member Kreeger and Castriotta said they were open to hearing more about the possibility of a citizen board as a tweak before second reading.

Council Members Beacom and Groom stated that their positions had not changed since the review of this ordinance began months ago.  Council Member Beacom stated that it was a gross overcomplication of a process and the simplest thing to do was to allow citizens to petition the City Manager for an appeal of the complaint process.  Council Member Groom wants an example of when this hearing process might be needed and what power the City would have to do about it.

Mayor Ahrens compared having an oil and gas complaint denied to being denied a liquor license where a citizen “can always go to court if they don’t like the recommendation.”  He said he would not likely need to vote, but he would like to see something more concrete in an ordinance.

Council Member Law-Evans introduced the motion to continue the ordinance, with her stated reason for changing her mind from earlier statements being that she heard ideas that needed further consideration.  The vote (see above) was then 5-3 to continue the ordinance to a later Study Session.

Ordinance 2076 – Council Comments on Reverse Setbacks 

Ordinance No. 2076 – Amending the Broomfield Subdivision Regulations to Increase Setbacks from Oil and Gas Wells – would seek to notify property owners in new real estate developments of the siting of existing or new wells nearby.  It includes “a written notice that will be recorded against the title of lots within 1,320 feet of an existing or proposed oil or gas well, when a dwelling unit or school could be built on such lot.”  It defines “proposed” as having a Form 2 or Form 2A drilling permit submitted to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which is very far along in the planning process.

Council Member Shelton began by calling attention to an email from Heidi Williams of the Homebuilders Association who was worried that the definition of “proposed oil and gas wells” would include pipelines and flowlines.  In response to another question, if the plat is finalized but is undeveloped for a period of time during which a proposed oil and gas well is submitted, Attorney Sullivan said that it would be impractical for the City to try to place the notification condition on the title after the finalization of the plat.

Council Member Castriotta stated, “One thing we keep getting away from is that this is land use authority, this is what we can control.  We can’t control anything else about oil and gas, and we hear from developers that it’s not fair or there are unintended consequences, but when do the affected residents get anything fair in this deal?”  She continued, “I don’t feel bad for the developers.  We owe it to our residents to let people know what they are getting into.”

Council Member Kreeger asked if the City could find a way to similarly notify renters.  Attorney Sullivan said it was something that Council could choose to require but would be hard to enforce.  Council Member Groom stated that she would support the ordinance moving forward but thought alerting renters would be unnecessary.  Mayor Ahrens later stated that he would like the Staff to think about adding Section E to the ordinance which would require apartment buildings and senior housing to post notification as to where the closest well is.

Council Member Shelton put forth a substitute motion to continue the ordinance to a Study Session.  The vote was:

Yes – Council Members Beacom, Groom, Law-Evans, Shelton

No – Council Members Castriotta, Erickson, Kreeger, Shaff

Absent – Council Members Jezerski, Tessier

The Mayor broke the 4-4 tie by voting no on the continuance.  The vote on the ordinance (see above) was to 6-2 to approve it on first reading with the second reading scheduled for March 12.