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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Proposed regulations would limit new FoCo oil, gas facilities

Proposed+regulations+would+limit+new+FoCo+oil%2C+gas+facilities

Collegian | Madelyn Hendricks

Piper Russell, News Editor

The Fort Collins City Council will consider adopting new oil and gas development regulations. Staff proposed new oil and gas regulations at the Oct. 25 City Council work session.

Oil and gas regulations were last updated when Senate Bill 19-181 was adopted in Colorado in April 2019. As stated on the City of Fort Collins’ website, this bill gave local governments the ability to “regulate the siting and surface impacts of oil and gas development.”

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“That was a pretty major shift in the regulatory landscape and gave the city a little bit more power to control what was happening within our community,” Fort Collins City Planner Rebecca Everette said.

The City Council session Oct. 25 included discussions about regulation on new oil and gas facilities, regulation of currently existing oil and gas facilities and land development that happens in close proximity to existing wells.

The draft of the new regulations states their purpose to “protect the public health, safety and welfare and the environment and wildlife resources by regulating oil and gas development to anticipate, avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to existing, planned and future land uses.”

“Long term, our goal would be to take some of the active wells that we have now that are really low-producing wells, … get them out of production and … kind of mitigate some of the potential impacts or actually occurring impacts that are happening for our community. So the end goal would be no active oil and gas operations within the city limits.” –Rebecca Everette, Fort Collins city planner

Everette said the proposed regulations include a requirement that oil and gas facilities can only be located in the industrial zone district. This prevents development of new oil and gas facilities in residential and commercial areas.

Further, new oil and gas facilities wouldn’t be allowed to locate within 2,000 feet of occupiable buildings. Currently, distance requirements, called setbacks, are only applied for residential and high-occupancy buildings. 

“That 2,000-foot buffer layered on top of only being allowed in the industrial zone district significantly restricts the potential for oil and gas development,” Everette said. “We’re not calling it a ban; we’re not outright banning oil and gas facilities, but it creates pretty extreme limitations on if or where oil and gas facilities can be located in the city.”

In an email to The Collegian, Kirk Longstein, a senior environmental planner for Fort Collins, explained that other aspects of the proposed regulations include “continuing to leverage state and county regulations and resources to ensure regulatory compliance for existing facilities.”

Further, Longstein wrote staff will also propose oil and gas pipelines be removed as an allowed use within public open lands and residential zone districts and that oil and gas developments be subject to a Planning and Zoning Commission review. These new policy options came as a result of public input since the Oct. 25 work session.

City Council will revisit the proposed oil and gas regulations Dec. 6. The regulations will need two readings to be approved by the council, Everette said. If the regulations are approved, they would create a new developmental process for oil and gas facilities as well as new design standards and inspection requirements.

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“We’re really expecting that 2,000-foot buffer and the zoning will preclude much of any oil and gas development,” Everette said.

Longstein also has plans to start doing public outreach in 2023 “on updates to the land development code to include reverse setbacks from existing oil and gas facilities for new planned developments.”

“Long term, our goal would be to take some of the active wells that we have now that are really low-producing wells, … get them out of production and … kind of mitigate some of the potential impacts or actually occurring impacts that are happening for our community,” Everette said. “So the end goal would be no active oil and gas operations within the city limits.”

Reach Piper Russell at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @PiperRussell10.

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About the Writer
Photo of Piper Russell
Piper Russell, News Editor

Piper Russell is one of The Collegian’s news editors this year and is thrilled to be working in the role. She started as a news reporter her sophomore...

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