Board addresses gas well locations
|Discussion involving how close gas wells are being drilled to residential areas was an important topic at the planning commission meeting earlier in the month. The commission asked the staff to study the problem and make recomendations. |
The issue of the proximity of gas wells to residential areas dominated a discussion at the county planning board meeting on Nov. 2.
"I am concerned about our zoning and how we can control this problem," said board member Lynna Topolovec. "Some areas in Kenilworth have mining and grazing zones right in town. I worry with that there we could have wells in town on small plots. We could also have this problem in some other communities in the county as well."
The issue stems from a meeting a gas company scheduled with residents of Kenilworth in October about a well that would be located near several homes.
"The way I see it right now, in some places there, they could put a well right next to someone's house," said Toplovec. "I wonder if we need to do something about this situation and similar problems that could arise in other parts of the county."
The complaint about wells possibly being located too near residential areas in Carbon County is not a new concern.
In the last three years, the county has looked at the problem a number of times.
One of the biggest complaints raised by residents involved the noise the wells cause, particularly at night.
However, studies conducted by county personnel and gas companies have shown that the ambient noise in the atmosphere often obscures the sound of the well pumps after a few hundred feet.
Traditionally, the county has not allowed wells to be drilled within about 1,200 feet of private residences.
Now, some people are bringing up problems not only about noise, but visual substance and safety as well.
Commissioner Mike Milovich suggested to the planning board that the county could possibly put restrictions on the wells based on conditional use permits that would keep the operations one-quarter of a mile away from homes.
"One of the things we did was run an overlay of zoning areas in 1998," said county planning director Dave Levanger. "But the whole thing was never approved. We would have had something that kept gas wells at least 660 feet away from homes."
"But some of it also depends on geography. If there is a hill between the homes and the well, the well could be closer. If it is flat, it may be farther away," added the county planning director.
Levanger recommended changing chapter three of the county's development code to rectify the situation.
Topolovec suggested that 660 feet should be the minimum distance and as much as a mile may be desirable.
The board instructed the staff to look at the situation and come up with proposed changes to the development code to rectify the situation.
The commission also grappled with the problem of rentals in industrial parks again. The concern the commission has had in the past is when a developer builds a new building in a park, sometimes tenants move in with businesses that require conditional use permits, but because one has already been granted for preceding business or for the developer, the new business operates without the knowledge of the county.
"We would just like to see whose is in the rentals and what kind of business they are operating," said Commission Chairman Richard Tatton.
The concern has to do with hazardous operations and materials that might be used in such businesses. The commission said they would hold a special meeting just to approved such permits if a developer needed a quick answer on a rental unit.