Timnath’s Proposed Interim Oil and Gas Ordinance

Colorado oil well - image courtesy of The Huffington Post

Timnath’s Proposed Interim Oil and Gas Ordinance – Public Hearing on July 9, 2019, at 6 p.m.

 

By The Town of Timnath

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The passage of Senate Bill 181 has made changes to oil and gas regulations in Colorado. Larimer County has created a task force to develop its own regulations, and they expect the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”) will adopt rules later this year to incorporate those changes.

Market conditions are increasing the possibility of permit applications within Town limits. No permits have been submitted to the Town, to protect Timnath’s residents between now and the release of the expected regulations, the Council is considering the adoption of Interim Regulations as set forth in Ordinance No. 7, Series 2019 (the “Interim Regulations”)  that are the most stringent allowed by State law.

The proposed Interim Regulations would take effect immediately after the second reading of the Ordinance on July 9, 2019, and would apply until additional  Senate Bill 181 Rules are adopted, and be analyzed, and additional regulations can be considered by the Town Council.

Timnath’s staff is closely watching the COGCC rule-making process, but, in the meantime, the Interim Regulations are necessary because increasing oil and gas market rates could cause permit applications within Town limits before the expected changes to state law are implemented.

Land Ownership

In Colorado, mineral rights can be severed from the land, creating a situation where a landowner owns the land but not the minerals beneath it. Current regulations allow mineral owners to use the surface of the land to extract resources as long as they follow requirements related to setbacks, buffers, access, impact mitigation, etc. Senate Bill 181 has been passed and is the law.

Local Control

While the conversation continues on the state level, Timnath can develop local requirements through the Council’s authority to regulate land use within Town limits. The Interim Regulations would require oil and gas companies to apply for a permit through the Town prior to extracting minerals. The Ordinance allows the Community Development Director to approve a conditional use permit. Factors such as setbacks, access, buffers, aesthetics and compliance with state and federal air quality, water quality and waste disposal regulations will be considered.

Setbacks

The Interim Regulations also require all new oil and gas facilities and new well sites to be located 500 feet from residential buildings, 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings and 1,000 feet from community gathering spaces (including public playgrounds, parks and recreation fields). Again these setbacks are consistent with Colorado’s already stringent regulations and are the maximum allowed.

The Interim Regulations would also require that the applicant enters into a separate memorandum of understanding with the Town that would address project-specific terms, such as access roads, fencing aesthetics and other items that are not preempted by state law.  Specifically, this agreement would allow the Town to impose additional terms on the operator in the areas that are not preempted by state law.

Additional Information

The Interim Regulations received a unanimous recommendation of approval by the Planning Commission at their meeting held on March 19, 2019. The Town Council will conduct a public hearing on the proposed interim ordinance on July 9, 2019, at 6 p.m. at the Town Administration Building at 4800 Goodman Street, Timnath. For additional information, you can view the March 19, 2019, Planning Commission meeting packet.