Quicksilver hearing delayed until March 20 | SteamboatToday.com

Quicksilver hearing delayed until March 20

Quicksilver Resources will have to wait until next week to learn the fate of its application for a special use permit to pursue a second oil well on Wolf Mountain.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners was scheduled for a hearing leading to a potential vote Monday night after the Planning Commission voted, 7-2, on March 1 to recommend its approval. Instead, the commissioners voted to continue the scheduled hearing until March 20 after learning at 8:30 a.m. Monday that public notice of the hearing was not properly given.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush apologized on behalf of her colleagues for the inconvenience caused to the applicants and members of the public.

"We know people have traveled a great distance and we know people cleared their schedules," Mitsch Bush said.

Quicksilver Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs Steve Lindsey said his company still can meet its goals for completing a first phase of the drilling of the new well about six miles northeast of Hayden by April 4. But the potential for beginning preliminary dirt work this week becomes more risky without knowing how the county commissioners will respond to conditions the Planning Commission placed on its recommendation of approval at the beginning of the month.

"It's within our operational window. It's well within parameters, and we have no intent of hurrying or doing anything unsafe," Lindsey said. "We have (an excavation) permit in hand. But with the uncertainty over conditions, anything we do is at risk."

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A change of plans

Steamboat resident Marian Marti submitted her analysis explaining how she thought public notices for Monday night's meeting had not been properly handled to the county commissioners on the morning of the hearing. Marti provided documentation to show that the required notification had not been published 30 days in advance in the newspaper of record.

County Attorney John Merrill explained to a small audience in the Commissioners Hearing Room how the improper notification came about. Quicksilver requested Jan. 24 that the Pirtlaw Partners 24-33 oil well on Wolf Mountain be moved ahead of another, The Camilletti well near Milner, in the county process. Adjacent property owners were notified of the permit application Jan. 31. On Feb. 8, Merrill said, Brent Romick, a representative of the surface rights owner on Wolf Mountain, Pirtlaw Partners, requested that the hearing be moved up from March 20 to March 12. On that same day, Quicksilver agreed to the change, Merrill said.

Revised property owners notices were sent out Feb. 9. However, the first legal notice was sent to the newspaper containing the old, incorrect March 20 hearing date and was published Feb. 12. A second legal notice containing the correct March 12 hearing date published Feb. 19, but was a week and a day late to satisfy the 30-day notice, Merrill said.

Based on the number of people who turned out at the courthouse for Monday night's hearing, most interested Routt County residents already had learned it would not be held as scheduled.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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