The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission is considering a new 1000 foot setback requirement for residential properties after holding public meetings around the state. In addition to oil and gas operators, agricultural interests, developers, homebuilders, the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties Inc. oppose the proposal because it “deprives operators, local governments, and surface owners of the flexibility needed to address competing land use interests on a site specific basis.”
Environmental groups and homeowner activists have said the proposed setback rule doesn’t go far enough to protect the public. Some local REALTOR® associations are concerned about the impact of the proposed setback in terms of property values.
An impact statement prepared by the Commission staff said,
Increasing setback distance between occupied buildings and a well or production facility has the potential to impact future residential or commercial development by reducing the number of available building sites. Reducing the number of building units will increase the land cost per unit. It is anticipated these increased costs would be passed along from a developer to a homebuilder, and ultimately to prospective buyers. However, under current Commission Rules residential developments are regulated as High Density Areas, in which the setback is 350 feet. In 2012, only five locations have been approved as an exception to the 350-foot setback in the existing high density area. Consequently, the proposed Setback Rules are unlikely to have a significant impact on residential or commercial development.
The Commission considered the setbacks (and new water testing requirements) in hearings this week but final decisions weren’t expected. In fact, the whole process is so slow that the General Assembly may try to legislate stricter oil and gas drilling requirements before the Commission ever finalizes its rules.