BOCC fracks up land use code

GarCo gas wellsOn Monday, Garfield County Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt new land use code which became effective immediately. In Article 3: Zoning, Table 3-403 shows that Oil and Gas Drilling and Production is exempt from Article 7: Standards, and that includes residential districts, nonresidential districts and resource land zone districts. The BOCC considers oil & gas drilling and production, including fracking, a use by right and therefore the oil & gas industry does not need to comply with the same standards as other individuals, businesses, and developers in the county. Be sure to take a peek at Article 7: Standards to see what the BOCC is letting the industry get away with. It’s a fracking shame!

Garfield County adopts revised land-use code

… Already, in fact, commissioners sent two proposed text amendments related to oil and gas facilities back to the county’s planning commission for review. One of those would clarify that remote hydraulic fracturing operations at approved Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission lease locations is a use by right.

Although the provision is addressed elsewhere in the code, commissioners agreed with industry representatives who attended Monday’s meeting to revise an additional reference to make it more clear that remote fracking can occur without a county permit …

Press Release: Garfield County finalizes and adopts land use code revisions

Garfield County Land Use and Development Code


anitaheadshot-smallAnita Sherman* comments:

This is an abomination, abuse of governmental authority, and is deliberately defrauding the public of their resources. Government should not be used to protect “private investments” on land speculations and developments with no public review or impact assessments. Apparently, some property owners are more valuable than others.

Jankovsky’s point was clear. The changes were made to give peace of mind to property owners. The largest property owner in Garfield County is the oil and gas industry, and ranchers who lease their land to the industry. If private investors want to hide behind “public good,” it’s time to ferret out those private investors publicly. Citizens can’t sue elected officials. However, the advisory committee members aren’t elected. It’s time for the public to learn about the interests behind these changes.

As it stands now, your neighbor has a private right to “impact” your public health, safety, and quality of life, diminish your property values, poison and pollute your environment arbitrarily without any recourse—except legal, on your dime. Ancillary permits will be issued faster than a jack rabbit on a date. We’ll continue to pay for their poor financial decisions with underwater mortgages (where is the concern from the commissioners for those property owners?), health infractions to our citizens, safety issues related to air and quality, compromised eco-systems, reduction in tourist dollars, impact to agricultural interests and economic drivers reliant on a safe healthy environment.

We’ll pay if we want to sue our neighbors for pillaging, polluting, and poisoning for profit under auspices of “economic development.” But for a privileged few, it’s a great opportunity to “make the money and run.”

The commissioners have effectively shifted to cost of production/development from the corporation to the public. We pay period. Welcome to the US of ALEC, where common good has been changed to “corporate good.”

* Anita Sherman is a consultant for Blue Wing Strategies, LLC; cofounder of the citizens advocacy group Garfield Transparency Initiative; and a local pledged supporter of the international collaborative The Mothers Project. She is the 1st Vice Chair for the Garfield County Democratic Party, and a strong community voice for equitable process and social justice in public policy.

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One Comment on “BOCC fracks up land use code”

  1. Carl Mc Williams Says:

    In the 13th century Thomas Aquinas wrote Summa Theologica in which Aquinas believed in the concepts of the existence of natural law and absolute justice, but Aquinas believed that they were derived from God. By the 17th century, Aquinas’ ideas had developed into the Divine Rights of Kings and regardless of how unfair the king might be; a rebellion against the king would be a rebellion against God.

    In 1689 John Locke, an English political philosopher wrote his Second Treatise of Civil Government to reject the idea of the Divine Rights of Kings. Locke’s ideas were the basis for our American revolution and Locke’s concepts of the Rights of Man are fundamental to the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the US and Colorado Constitutions. Our Declaration of Independence expresses the ideas of Locke when it states in the Preamble that government “derives it just powers from the consent of the governed”.

    In the early days of the Republic following the 1787 ratification of the US Constitution, government regulation was limited by the common law principle of “sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas” (you should use what is yours so as not to harm what is others), implying that legitimate government regulations existed only to prevent concrete harm to the specified interests of others. Or stated another way, the common law doctrine of the era was: “If all impacted parties agree to the transaction, then government regulation is unnecessary.”

    Now in 2013 with the a mere vote, (and not the “consent of the governed”) Garfield County Commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin and Tom Jankovsky have acted as though they have been ordained with the Divine Right of Kings and the BOCC has awarded to the O&G industry “fracking by right”. Just as a 17th century king would award tracts of land to a loyal subject, Samson, Martin and Jankovsky have awarded “fracking by right” to the O&G Industry which contributes to their political campaign war chests.

    Yet all impacted parties to the fracking operations have not given their permission to the fracking and therefore the common law principal of “sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas” (you should use what is yours so as not to harm what is others) has been abandoned. Furthermore, the “consent of the governed” (to change the Land Use Code by a vote of the people on the November 2013 general election ballot), has been denied.

    The spirit of King George IV has been reincarnated into three Republican men who live in Garfield County, Colorado. When will the citizens of Garfield County awaken and revolt and recall Samson, Martin and Jankovsky?

    Carl McWilliams

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