LONGMONT, Colo. -- One week after giving original approval to a controversial oil and gas agreement, the Longmont City Council once again held a more than three-hour meeting with residents to discuss both the plan and how it was handled.
About 50 people came out for the information session, where residents were asked to write questions on index cards that were read to the council and city staff. More than 200 cards and questions were discussed.
The agreement includes the two main oil and gas drillers currently operating in Longmont.
Those companies would agree to give up current and future drilling permits, plug and abandon wells, and move out of Longmont city limits. In exchange, the city would pay them $3 million and lease them mineral rights to more than 500 acres of city property, including open space and beneath Union Reservoir.
Many of the queries had to do with oil and gas bans or moratoriums, mineral rights from city open spaces, and safety concerns from drilling. Other concerns had to do with how the council went about taking the vote during their meeting last week.
Denver7 reported on how some people felt blindsided by the Council’s actions to remove the agreement from its “consent agenda” only to bring it back up for discussion and ultimately vote to preliminarily approve it. Longmont’s Mayor has since defended that multiple times, saying it is the normal way that the council does business.
“We’re against the agreement and, ultimately, we are against the process," said longtime Longmont resident Dylan Podel. "We believe that them calling this a public forum is a lie is a sham. A forum involves discussion between two parties. This is them trying to sell us on a deal that they’ve already agreed upon."
“We were kinda deceived by the process and I felt that they should’ve been more open about how the process worked,” Tom Stumpf, another Longmont resident, added.
Mayor Brian Bailey asked the crowd, “What would you have us do?” regarding the agreement, citing how the State Supreme Court had already overturned Longmont’s fracking ban years ago.
No votes were taken, since this was just an informational session. The agreement between the city and the two oil and gas companies will be discussed again at a public forum during the May 22 City Council meeting, and will be followed by a final vote.