Routt County oil, gas group to meet for 1st time | SteamboatToday.com

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Routt County oil, gas group to meet for 1st time

— While the new Routt County oil and gas working group will help update county regulations that oversee some aspects of the energy industry, its task for Wednesday night's first meeting is more specific.

Chad Phillips, the county planning director, told the county commissioners Tuesday morning that the working group composed of local property owners, county officials and industry professionals would review the county's proposed 61 conditions of approval for oil and gas permits and possibly suggest additions. He said those conditions, which are compiled at the end of the application process, are based on zoning requirements and the county's master plan.

The recommendations from the working group eventually will be presented to the county commissioners. Commissioners said they don't want anything left out.

"I want them to put everything on the table and it's up to us to decide," Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. Commission Chairwoman Diane Mitsch Bush agreed.

Phillips said the working group doesn't have a chairperson and isn't a voting body.

Wednesday's meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Hearing Room on the third floor of the historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat. After introductions and a summary of the planning process, the group is scheduled to spend 1 hour and 40 minutes discussing the conditions of permit approval. No public comment period is scheduled, but the meeting is open to the public.

Phillips told the county commissioners Tuesday that he'd like to have a completed list of conditions of approval by the end of the next working group meeting Jan. 4 before the additional oil and gas action occurs. A public hearing on an application from Quicksilver Resources to drill on the Camilletti & Sons Ranch west of Milner has been scheduled for the Jan. 19 Routt County Planning Commission meeting.

Stahoviak said changes to the county's oil and gas regulations could happen quickly as long as the county meets publication requirements.

And it all could be moot.

Stagecoach resident Kyle Elston dropped off a petition Tuesday morning asking that the county commissioners reconsider a moratorium on new oil and gas permits. Elston said he circulated the petition because there's a lot of discontent related to oil and gas development here and because other Colorado municipalities have approved temporary moratoriums. Elston said he also hoped to sway commissioners Stahoviak and Doug Monger, who said they wouldn't support a moratorium at a public oil and gas work session earlier this month.

"I think a stack of papers a few inches high from local constituents means more than a few emails a day," Elston said. "I hope that physical — that visual element — helps them reconsider their position."

Elston said 3,431 Colorado residents signed the petition, including 861 from Routt County. That's nearly 4 percent of the county's 23,509 residents, according to the 2010 census.

Mitsch Bush said the number surprised her.

"It didn't surprise me that people were concerned about it, but that many people signing it is significant," she said. "We work for the people of Routt County. And we need to listen to the people of Routt County. And we need to get answers to their questions."

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com