Garfield County mulls gas field housing
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Garfield County commissioners on Monday considered changing the county’s zoning regulations for allowing temporary employee housing on area natural gas well pads.
The changes could allow many of the housing structures at area gas rigs to be built without special-use permits, which energy companies have to receive during public hearings before county commissioners.
But after a three-hour debate, all three commissioners voted to continue a public hearing about the issue. It will be considered again on March 10.
“I don’t think there has been any consensus reached here today,” said Commissioner Larry McCown at the tail end of the debate.
Under the proposal drawn up by the county planning staff, the industry could automatically house up to six workers at a time in small temporary housing after receiving a building permit. However, the temporary housing would have to meet certain performance standards, such as providing adequate water supplies.
McCown voiced concern that building permits for the temporary housing could take several weeks to be issued, hampering local energy production.
Camps housing from seven to 24 workers would require authorization by the county planning department, according to the new plan. Anything larger would require a hearing before county commissioners, as the county has been requiring of camps of all sizes under its current rules.
The Board of County of Commissioners considered the matter previously in November.
As commissioners considered the plan, debate often swirled around the number of beds and people that would be allowed in the temporary housing units. Other issues that surrounded the debate included how the housing would meet certain performance standards and what “essential personnel” would need to stay in the housing.
Commissioner Tresi Houpt expressed concern about allowing some housing to go up without strong county review.
“I think it flies in the face of having a code at all and having a building department,” Houpt said.
However, Commissioner John Martin said removing the administrative review for small temporary housing units would be an option that could serve the county well.
“I think we are over-regulated all ready,” Martin said.
In other business during the commissioner’s Monday meeting:
– The commissioners directed Dale Hancock, director of general services for the county, to look at other mid-size Colorado counties to develop a policy for scheduling and approving the use of county facilities for nonprofit group meetings. Martin asked for the subject to be considered at the meeting Monday.
“We really don’t have a policy on the use of these facilities for the different groups who have been asking,” Martin said.
– The Garfield County commissioners approved renewing landfill coupons for county employees. The coupons allow county employees to dump two pickup-sized loads free of charge in a 12-month period.
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