Erie approves 13 oil and gas wells near houses

ERIE, Colo. - Editor's note: In a story Aug. 13 about 13 oil and gas wells approved by Erie town trustees near two subdivisions, The Associated Press reported erroneously that some would violate state drilling setback rules. State rules require wells to be at least 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from heavily occupied buildings, like schools.

Leaders in Erie have signed off on a plan to develop 13 oil and gas wells near two subdivisions, even though opponents say will be too close to homes.

Town trustees voted unanimously to approve the wells on Tuesday, two years after signing a memorandum of understanding with Encana, the Daily Camera reported.

Opponents urged the board to reject the wells, arguing that some would be less than 800 feet from the nearest home. State regulations require a minimum of 500 feet between wells and homes and 1,000 feet between wells and heavily occupied buildings like schools.

Mayor Tina Harris told the crowd the trustees' role was limited.

Four weeks ago, the town's planning commission approved the plan, including the setbacks and features such as access roads, fencing and the color of the well facilities, and recommended that the trustees approve it.

Community development director Marty Ostholhoff said it was likely that future homes will be built even closer to the wells.

"I'm sure individuals may object to that, but I can't think of a neighborhood in the town of Erie that doesn't have oil and gas facilities," he said.

Earlier this month, Gov. John Hickenlooper asked state regulators to begin enforcing setback rules when he announced a new task force to study drilling in the state.

Town trustees voted unanimously to approve the wells on Tuesday, two years after signing a memorandum of understanding with Encana, the Daily Camera reported.

Opponents urged the board to reject the wells, arguing that some would be less than 800 feet from the nearest home.

Mayor Tina Harris told the crowd the trustees' role was limited.

Four weeks ago, the town's planning commission approved the plan, including the setbacks and features such as access roads, fencing and the color of the well facilities, and recommended that the trustees approve it. That left the trustees with no authority to deny it.

Community development director Marty Ostholhoff said it was likely that future homes will be built even closer to the wells.

"I'm sure individuals may object to that, but I can't think of a neighborhood in the town of Erie that doesn't have oil and gas facilities," he said.

Earlier this month, Gov. John Hickenlooper asked state regulators to begin enforcing the 1,000-foot setback rule when he announced a new task force to study drilling in the state.

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