AURORA — Some Aurora residents are questioning the transparency of city staff over administrative waivers that may be granted to Houston-based oil and gas developer ConocoPhillips to build 30-foot-tall towers for hydraulic fracturing near residential developments.
ConocoPhillips has five or six well sites in city limits right now. Aurora city planner Stephen Rodriguez said that the five applications moving through the approval process represent a major spike in oil and gas development, especially considering that more applications are due in the coming months.
Well sites “will soon be in the double digits, which is a tremendous increase,” Rodriguez said. “The city looks at land use impacts … we do not approve anything that has to do with oil and gas drilling — all of that is regulated by the state.”
City staff is working to keep up its local regulations on things like vapor recovery tanks, which are used to control greenhouse emissions.
In 2012, the city approved an ordinance that limits the height of those tanks to 20 feet. The ordinance also requires a 1,000-foot setback from residences and city property.
Now, city planners are working to amend that ordinance to allow the tanks to be at least 30 feet tall.
Some residents in one of the closest subdivisions, Murphy Creek, say they didn’t get an opportunity to address city council on the new waivers, which can be approved without going before council.