Bigger Setback for Gas and Oil Wells

There are 10 active and 20 abandoned or plugged gas and oil wells in the City of Fort Collins. But gas and oil activity are predominantly in the undeveloped land in the northeast sector of the City where new development will occur.

The City Council recently discussed increasing the setback for residential development to match state requirements. In Fort Collins, the current required setback is 250 feet but the state setback for residential development is 500 feet.

Staff also recommended an incentive to reduce the setback for plugged and abandoned wells to 150 feet if certain requirements are met. Developers would have to ensure well locations are confirmed, wells are plugged according to s state standards, water, air and soil samples are “clean” and permanent monitoring equipment is installed, and the area is deemed safe for residential development. Although these requirements could be costly for a developer, more land would be available to develop, hence the incentive.

In addition, staff recommended the creation of a disclosure via a property covenant that will be tied to properties within 1000 feet of a well. The Land Use Code currently requires notification about oil and gas wells to be placed on the plat for a new subdivision. Based on feedback from boards and the public, staff determined that this method of notification may be easily overlooked by a future homebuyer, so an additional method of notification is appropriate.

The City Council was generally supportive of staff recommendations, although Ross Cunniff and Bob Overbeck expressed concern about soil issues and requested that the City hire a geologist to do soil analysis before the recommendations are drafted into an ordinance.

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