It’s official. Changes in Aurora are coming. After a city council meeting on Monday, members voted unanimously to allow oil and gas companies to build 31.5-foot vapor towers and to defer to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for regulations concerning setbacks, noise and spill containment.
Under the revised regulations, oil and gas companies will no longer be required to obtain building permits. According to the Aurora Sentinel, residents in eastern Aurora were not so much concerned with the city changing the regulations to comply with the state as they were with the “broken” public input process.
Nicole Johnston, a resident of Aurora’s Adonea subdivision:
“I know there’s been some citizen input, but if we go down this road, it seems like it’s promoting more of the oil and gas industry agenda. It’s not taking into account the citizens that vote for all of you (referring to the city council).”
Under the new measure, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has the authority to regulate oil and gas drilling while the city can only regulate the land use impacts such as truck traffic. One of the regulations that went unchanged still allows companies to build tanks as high as 20 feet. ConocoPhillips, who owns and operates many of the well sites in Aurora, says the 31.5-foot vapor towers are part of new technology that will meet the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s stricter air quality measures.
The new measure will also call for a change in proximity well sites have to homes and buildings. Under the new measure, well pads will now be required to be 500 feet away from a building as opposed to formerly being 350 feet away. Also, companies that build a well pad within 1,500 feet of a platted building, school or park will be required to include landscaping with automatic irrigation systems—when available—along with chain link fences.