Land-use hearings can frustrate residents, but officials have multiple factors to consider

weld_co_sealCatherine Sweeney – The Tribune – August 6, 2016

Rockpick’s Take: Excellent article on how to present your concerns to commissioners on land use decisions

For the past few years, residents such as Maydean Worley have stormed out of Greeley and Weld County hearing rooms.

“We don’t have a democracy,” Worley yelled at the Weld County commissioners as she left a July meeting before it ended.

Extraction Oil and Gas proposed a well site near Bella Romero Academy’s 4-8 campus, near Cherry Avenue and 24th Street, east of Greeley. Dozens of residents turned out, some of them begging the commissioners to deny the project permission. Some of them cried.

“This is madness,” another resident bellowed as he ended his speech.

The commissioners unanimously approved the project.

From oil and gas development to asphalt production, dozens of industrial projects dot the county, as Weld’s economy continues to rely on those industries to fill jobs and tax coffers. A few of them are located near neighborhoods, both because the areas were valued by companies and because a huge population growth has put more people in Weld.

Before the oil and gas boom, residents came to these hearings to fight apartment complexes and shopping centers because of traffic, light and noise. Now they’re fighting industrial projects for many of the same reasons, although now they also express fears about their health and safety. They yell, they cry and sometimes they beg.

And almost every time, they lose.


Land-use policy is a way local governments help lay out a city. It’s complicated, labor intensive and vital to residents. But most of the time, it gets no attention because it’s also boring.

But for what usually amounts to a single, crucial time in a resident’s life, land-use policy isn’t boring. It’s a fight.

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