Planning Commission approves rezoning to allow Battlement injection well

The proposed site of the injection well will be within 500 feet of several homes, and within 1,000 feet of over 30 homes. [Source: BCC/GVCA/WCC letter to GarCo Planning Commission]

The Garfield County Planning Commission Commissioners voted 5-2 on Wednesday night to approve a rezoning proposal that will allow for an injection well in the Battlement Mesa community. The approval included a provision to allow only one injection well on the 22-acre site that will be rezoned.

Last month the Garfield County Community Development staff issued their report recommending that the rezoning application be denied.

Mike Sullivan and Greg McKennis, the two commissioners who voted against the rezoning, expressed their misgivings about the proposal.

“It seems like the short-term winning over the long-term,” Sullivan said. “This is not in the best interest of our Garfield County residents.”

McKennis, on the other hand, made it clear that he’s not opposed to having injection wells, he just felt the zoning change was “premature” and wants to see the whole plan before approving of a major change to the Battlement Planned Unit Development.

The rezoning proposal will move forward for a vote from the county commissioners. After their highly likely approval, Ursa will still need to obtain a separate special use permit from the both the county and the state to for an injection well on the site.

GarCo panel OKs rezoning for injection well

… Some Battlement Mesa residents object to having an injection well in the community because of concerns such as the potential for surface or subsurface leaks, explosions and fires, and induced earthquakes.

“There is no geological reason for Ursa to place a toxic waste injection well inside our community,” resident Betsy Leonard told the commission …

… Leslie Robinson of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance said the site is too close to homes.

“Industrial zones should be designed to reduce impacts, not create them,” she said.

At least one home would be within 500 feet of the planned well, meaning that Ursa would have to get a waiver from the homeowner under the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner’s setback rules, or a variance from the agency’s director.

Planning commissioner Greg McKennis objected to approving the well before the county has seen Ursa’s whole drilling plan for Battlement Mesa.

“I think it’s premature. They can truck (wastewater) for a while if they have to,” he said.

But some planning commissioners shared their firsthand knowledge of dealing with heavy oil and gas truck traffic where they live.

“As far as personal experience, it’s not a pleasant thing,” said commissioner Kasey Nispel …

**********

Injection well might be coming to Battlement Mesa

… Among the biggest concerns with the original plan was the proposed injection well’s proximity to local water supplies. Modifications to the proposal addressed those concerns and limited the rezoning area downstream and downgradient of the public water system facilities.

As part of its presentation, the planning staff showed updated comments from the organizations with the revisions in mind. After seeing the revised proposal, Battlement Mesa Metro District said it “reduces associated risk to Battlement Mesa’ public water supply.”

Several members of the public urged the commission not to move forward with the zoning change, including those with local community groups Battlement Concerned Citizens, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Western Colorado Congress.

“We’re obviously really disappointed and don’t think that a toxic waste disposal facility belongs in a residential area,” said Doug Saxton with Battlement Concerned Citizens.

While the vote came out 5-2 in favor of the zoning change, commissioners Mike Sullivan and Greg McKennis had very different oppositions of the proposal.

“It seems like the short-term winning over the long-term,” Sullivan said. “This is not in the best interest of our Garfield County residents.”

McKennis, on the other hand, made it clear that he’s not opposed to having injection wells, he just felt the zoning change was “premature” and wants to see the whole plan before approving of a major change to the Battlement Planned Unit Development.

The change now goes to Garfield County commissioners.

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