LOVELAND, Colo. — While details are sparse surrounding an oil and gas proposal in the Centerra area of Loveland, the plan has worried some residents and piqued the interest of others.
MRG LLC is in charge of the fracking proposal, which is an entity owned by the McWhinney family. Loveland Mayor Pro Tem Don Overcash said the plan involves two sites, and one would be in the area of the Kinston housing development.
The McWhinney real estate investment company is the developer of Kinston, which intends to have more than 2,000 build sites when completed. The residential village is expected to be finished in an estimated 10 to 15 years.
“From my understanding, there are two locations. One east of I-25, east of Kinston, and the other one is south of U.S. Highway 34 quite a way down, towards Colorado Highway 402," said Overcash, who has seen some information about the proposal. “One of the sites that they're looking at, according to a diagram that I saw briefly, is near an existing pad."
The City of Loveland has not received an application for the McWhinney oil and gas facilities.
The director of the Development Services Department, Brett Limbaugh, said several years ago they received applications from Occidental Petroleum Corporation for mineral rights extraction on property owned by the McWhinneys. The applications were never completed because the surface rights lease agreement was not finalized.
Limbaugh said the city does not know if the new McWhinney proposal would involve the same locations as the Occidental Petroleum Corporation plan.
Loveland Mayor Jacki Marsh said the McWhinney family owns some mineral rights in the area.
“Troy McWhinney, one of the founders, he and his brother Chad began Centerra back in the early 2000s. He sent out a notice to many of the homeowners saying that they wanted to hold a public meeting to discuss plans to do oil and gas development inside Centerra," Marsh said. “I am not in favor of drilling or fracking in developed areas or an area that we know is about to develop.”
Both Overcash and Marsh agree there are many unknowns about the proposal right now. However, they have different feelings about the idea.
“There's a lot of controversy around anything fracking, and I understand we're all concerned about our health and well-being. But at the same time, with those strict regulations that are in place at the state — which have just been upgraded again to make them some of the strictest in the nation — I think it's important that we take a look at the plan and understand it," Overcash said. “When people realize the amount of drilling that's already existing, for instance, under all of Windsor, with no impact on health or their property values — it's a rapidly growing area — I think they'll be more be relieved.”
Meanwhile, Marsh said she is more open to the concept of oil and gas development farther from populated areas.
“From my own standpoint, would I want to live near this? And the answer would be no, I wouldn't. I'd be worried about air pollution, water ground contamination, long-term effects," Marsh said. "I think we could put it in uninhabited areas, where you don't have people living, where you don't have shopping centers, where you don't have schools and hospitals and churches.”
Public comment about the plan was heard by Loveland City Council on Tuesday evening. Marsh said the city has been inundated with emails since the proposal was announced.
One Loveland resident, Ramon Wallace, is concerned about the proposal.
“There will be mistakes. Something's going to happen. And that stuff's going to get into Boyd Lake. It's going to get into the other lakes. It's going to get into the water system. And it's proven. It just it happens. There's no way that an oil and gas developer can say, 'we're not going to make mistakes,'" Wallace said. “I can't see a positive for anyone except those who are pocketing the cash.”
McWhinney will host a virtual presentation about the proposal on Wednesday, January 19, from 6 to 7 p.m. Attendees must register here.
Troy McWhinney was not available for an interview on Tuesday, but sent the following statement:
We understand that energy activity will raise questions in our community. While there isn’t any requirement that we hold this meeting, we know it is important to begin an ongoing dialogue with our neighbors. We haven’t formally submitted plans or permits yet and are literally in the very first steps of the process. Tomorrow’s meeting will provide an opportunity for us to share our initial plans, openly and transparently, and answer as many questions as we can in this early planning stage. We continue to stand by our commitment to sustainable development and care for the environment, and that commitment remains at the core of this project.