Environment

McWhinney Company Files Letters of Intent for Fracking Under Lakes at Centerra

A fracking proposal for Lakes at Centerra is moving forward.
A fracking proposal for Lakes at Centerra is moving forward. Lakes at Centerra Facebook
Some residents of Lakes at Centerra, a community in Loveland, are still steaming over developer Troy McWhinney's informational meeting in January regarding plans to frack under the neighborhood. On March 17, MRG, a McWhinney-owned entity, sent two letters of intent to the City of Loveland, solidifying the intention to build two oil pads and 26 wells — and now those residents are ready to blow.

According to Troy Bliss, a senior planner with Loveland, oil and gas developers generally submit official development applications within thirty days of sending letters of intent, so residents could learn more details of the plan within the month. “It’s basically putting the city on alert and giving them a heads-up that it intends to file oil and gas applications within our jurisdiction,” Bliss says.

Some residents of Lakes at Centerra complain that they weren’t given a heads-up about the potential for fracking when they bought their properties; they say they plan to leave if the plan goes through — so they hope that city or state regulators will step in first.

Though the city hasn’t yet done a complete analysis, the letters indicate that the oil pad to the east of Interstate 25 will comply with Loveland’s enhanced standards for oil and gas development, while the pad to the west will comply with Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requirements, but not Loveland’s higher standards.

If that holds true in the company's official submittal, the oil pads would take separate tracks to final approval. Although both applications would involve a city review and a neighborhood meeting, the eastern pad would take the Track 2 process, with Director of Development Services Brett Limbaugh having final decision-making authority over the approval of the project. Once Limbaugh makes his decision, it could only be challenged in court.

The western pad might have to go through the more stringent approval process of Track 3 if it doesn’t meet Loveland’s higher standards for emergency services, land distribution, noise mitigation and lighting, among other measures. That process includes a public hearing with the city’s planning commission, which would rule whether to approve or deny the permit; if it's approved, there would be an option to appeal the permit through city council rather than in court.

Bliss will oversee the process but won’t provide input on the specifics of the proposal or its approval.

“My involvement with any type of oil and gas development application would simply be to serve as a project manager from the city side of things and provide appropriate zoning and land-use provisions,” he says.

City staff reviews transportation, emergency services, utility services and stormwater management. Loveland can hire outside counsel that specializes in oil and gas to review air quality monitoring, subsurface conditions and soil monitoring. “Even though we don’t have those people here on staff, we do bring them in if we think it’s necessary,” Bliss notes.

Information about the letters of intent can be found on the City of Loveland's Oil and Gas Development website; the official submittals will be posted there as well.
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Catie Cheshire is a staff writer at Westword. After getting her undergraduate degree at Regis University, she went to Arizona State University for a master's degree. She missed everything about Denver -- from the less-intense sun to the food, the scenery and even the bus system. Now she's reunited with Denver and writing news for Westword.
Contact: Catie Cheshire