Stapleton neighbors say they weren't properly notified of hearing on proposed oil drilling

Geologist asked state board to sell mineral rights

DENVER — When you think of new oil and gas development, you don't think of Denver's booming Stapleton neighborhood.

"I was shocked," said homeowner, Hope Miller.

"I was surprised to see the application," said Denver Councilwoman, Debbie Ortega. "It's historically been more common in the Western Slope and in Northern Colorado, not in the urban fabric of our city."

To neighbors and Councilwoman Ortega's surprise, a Lone Tree geologist asked the state land board to auction off mineral rights in North Stapleton during a hearing last week.

A state land board hearing that residents, and Ortega said they weren't made aware of until the night before.

"The one thing that really concerned me was the fact that we were behind the eight ball on the notification process, and being able to allow communities to weigh in," explained Ortega. "What I've learned is the point of contact with the city when any of these applications are submitted is a staff person at Denver International Airport.

The public hearing is the first step in a long process to green light horizontal drilling underneath houses in North Stapleton near 56th Avenue and Quebec Street, not far from the Willow Park neighborhood.

Three other tracts were also proposed around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and another near Green Valley Ranch.

"It certainly doesn't make me feel safe in my home," said Miller.

In response to public comment, the state board voted unanimously not to approve the auction -- for now.

"The good news is it's postponed for a year, but will it be back? I don't know," explained Ortega.

However, if it weren't for Facebook, where Councilwoman Ortega and other neighborhood groups posted information about the hearing the night before, Stapleton homeowners would have had no idea.

"Definitely should have been more than the night before, and even just complete information. There were so many questions," said Miller.

The state land board can revisit the issue again in a year. If that happens or any other locations in the city are nominated for auction, Ortega has vowed to make sure communities have enough time to weigh in.

"What can we do to make sure we're shoring up that communication," she said.

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