Take my commissioner, please.

The Elbert County Planning Commission rubber-stamped an oil & gas zoning regulation that would have put the county in conflict with state COGCC regulations, making grounds for litigation in the grey area of Colorado county vs. state authority to legally occupy a regulatory field. Had those regulations passed, it wouldn’t have taken long for an aggrieved party, no doubt with supporting briefs from Jerry Dahl, to come along and tie the county up in an expensive lawsuit with the state.

After listening to interminable hours of environmentalists on the oil and gas edit committee and their audiences haggle through various entrapment schemes to stymie oil and gas development, I believe that litigation was always their unspoken objective. They never intended to facilitate oil and gas development, regardless of how safe, how environmentally benign, how well planned it could be, or, and this one really chaps my butt, how much good faith they professed.

Before Larry Ross became Commissioner Ross, he and his wife were part of that clamor for oil and gas regulation. As the letter below demonstrates, the big picture from the elected office window has done little to objectify his views.

As head of the planning commission, Grant Thayer should have had the fortitude to stand against the liberal majority who proceeded without regard to the expressed COGCC warnings about operational conflicts. In doing the only honorable thing, however, he neglected to mention his own culpability, and instead dumped on the BOCC. Maybe he’ll man up on that issue someday.

If all this wasn’t bad enough, the planning commission can only be expected to issue findings even further removed from objective reality under the leadership of staunch leftists Crisan and Brown, champions of the envious, redistributors of all things appurtenant to land, holders of the door handles to Elbert County, closed tightly behind the last ones to successfully make it out here.

The movie Pleasantville comes to mind — the black and white part.


RE: Thayer Resignation

Dear Editor [West Elbert County Sun, 7-18-2013],

It is with deep regret that I have accepted the letter of resignation of long time Elbert County Planning Commission Chairman Mr. Grant Thayer.

Mr. Thayer has faithfully served the people of Elbert County for over a decade accomplishing a great deal to provide a land use planning and zoning framework and leadership for our nine member Planning Commission. Grant has my most sincere gratitude.

Grant Thayer is a highly accomplished petroleum geologist. Mr.. Thayer has been the CEO of two oil companies and the COO of another. Grant is also a tremendous steward of the land having placed thousands of his acres into conservation and wildlife trusts and utilizing best practices in ranching and farming.

Mr. Grant Thayer brought all this ability and selfless dedication to the process of developing for Elbert County an oil and gas regulation that is practical and workable for our citizens, the state and the industry.

Mr. Thayer stated in his letter the following: “It appears that the motion by Commissioner Schlagel and its subsequent passing that it is the intent of the BOCC to bypass the Planning Commission in drafting and recommendations of future county regulations.”

Our citizens should be concerned and alarmed when the Board of County Commissioners ignores and bypasses our Planning Commission on zoning issues of any kind.

An effective Planning Commission can protect us from land use decisions being made by a mere two County Commissioners and placing special interests above yours.

Best Regards,

Larry D. Ross, Elbert County Commissioner, District 3

leadership vs. litigiousness

Other polarities here:

  • Republican vs. Democrat
  • Rule of Law vs. Manipulation of Law
  • Conclusive Decisionmaking vs. Adversarial Provocation
  • Elected Representation vs. Aparatchik Subversion

The BOCC majority, in this case, prevented bad zoning laws from overtaking Elbert County.  Let’s hope they continue to do so.

Rick Brown (4/2/2013) “Frankly at this point I don’t care what the state says.”


C.R.S.  30-28-116. Regulations may be amended

From time to time the board of county commissioners may amend . . . any . . . provision . . . of the zoning . . . Any such amendment shall not be made or become effective unless the same has been proposed by or is first submitted for the approval, disapproval, or suggestions of the county planning commission. If disapproved by such commission . . . such amendment, to become effective, shall receive the favorable vote of not less than a majority of the entire membership of the board of county commissioners.

Over the past 2+ years, the Oil & Gas regulation edit committee, and its contributory audiences, were both heavily weighted with Democrats and environmentalists.

Last Spring, the Elbert County Planning Commission took the wholesale work product from this partisan group and passed it without objection.

In June, the BOCC offered to strike a middle ground with these forces by saving the zoning regulation component with minor language changes, and revamping the MOU into a more fair negotiation tool, one not repugnant to industry and COGCC regulations.

Democrat forces would have nothing to do with that compromise and spoke vehemently against it.

Democrat forces never intended to produce a workable process.  They intended to create, and did create, a document to legalize a zoning process of interminable discretionary procedural delays — pretty much the same approach they used for the new zoning for Special Districts.

Apparently, the BOCC learned something from the Special District zoning fiasco.

At yesterdays’ oil & gas regulatory denouement, Mr. Blotter threw up a Hail Mary with another call for a moratorium — essentially the legal effect he and compatriots had intended to achieve with the zoning process they’d constructed over the past 2+ years.

The majority of the BOCC correctly realized that another turn on the planning commission merry-go-around, with zero assurances that the unelected planning commissioners would produce any kind of workable outcome, would just end up extending the debacle.

The majority of the BOCC realized that a substantial change in governing law must be arguably better than the status quo, and that on the working documents presented to them, and likely to be presented to them from the same people in the future, they could not make that case.  Judging by the weak objections from Commissioner Ross, there indeed was no case to be made.   And the majority knew that Elbert County already had plenty of regulatory protection in place under the COGCC’s legal occupation of the field, and Elbert County’s land use zoning under special use review.

The ones who came away from yesterday licking their wounds are the over-reaching planners who have now marginalized themselves — and that includes CDS employees, lawyerly code writers, the rubber-stamping planning commission poobahs, and the acolyte zombie enablers of this circus — into a boring predictable bunch of partisan hacks.


the 90-10 fallacy

If 90% of the people want Elbert County to control things like oil & gas and water, how come we only ever hear from 10% of them?

10% seems all you need to get the Planning Commission and the BOCC to write up and pass new laws.

Are members of the Planning Commission and the BOCC so consumed by their own power that it only takes a handful of cheerleaders to make them execute?

Leadership and its’ absence

Two contentious issues were on the table today: the Rocky Mountain Airpark and the Special District Regulations. In an effort to explore commissioner qualities, non-BOCC public employee and private citizen tap-dances and self-aggrandizements have been removed from the edit. What remains are the bare bones of our leadership, though in the case of the majority, “leadership” doesn’t quite capture it.

Elbert Co: “Closed For Business”

Commissioner Rowland equates the special district moratorium, now 20 months old, to the new special district zoning regulations.  “One is as the other.”

Elbert County is closed for business and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

All you people looking for jobs and economic growth in Elbert County, go elsewhere.

tyranny of, by, and for, planners

To summarize, the BOCC appointed a Water Advisory Committee [WAC].  The WAC helped write the new Special District Regulations scheduled to be approved by the BOCC.  The WAC wrote themselves into the regulatory process for approving new or modified Special Districts, and gave themselves the power to hold up the process indefinitely.

Here’s how they did it:

3. Incomplete Applications. If / when either a pre- or final application is found to be incomplete, Community & Development Services shall inform the Applicant, return the Application, and restart the timeline clock only after a completed application has been received.

6. Pre-Application Review. Referral agencies shall include any service district within three miles of the proposed Special District. The consultants and referral agencies will have 21 days to respond with comments to CDS in writing. A Referral Agency may request an additional ten [10] days if needed. Comments that require a written response from the Applicant will be forwarded when received. Such written responses shall be submitted to CDS and forwarded to the referral party for verification

b. The Pre-Application Service District Plan shall be reviewed by the Elbert County Review Committee as follows:

  • Elbert County Water Advisory Committee & Water consultant as required

c. Review Committee professionals shall be expected to review the information relative to their professional expertise and respond in writing to CDS about:

  • Professional experience / opinion related to project feasibility for the greater good of Elbert County citizens.

9. Requests for Additional Details. Elbert County may request additional detail about the project. When additional detail is requested, the project timeline will be suspended and will not restart until the additional detail is received in writing.

To conclude: an unelected board wrote the law, and will enforce the law, without any limitations beyond what they consider to be the greater good of Elbert County citizens. 

This is the face of tyranny.


special district approval transparency?

The proposed zoning law (General Standards of Approval) duplicates much of the approval criteria contained in state statute. Such duplication would appear to be unnecessary and needlessly expensive to maintain.

In addition, the thrust of CRS 32-1-203 appears to contemplate a service plan decision made at a public hearing by a BOCC where opposed views can be openly discussed.

The proposed zoning law seems to remove the evaluation of new special districts to off-line Review Committees who do not operate in public hearings and whose findings cannot be challenged in public by petitioners. [Read more...]