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Planning commission bias affects Master Plan

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Dear Editor:

The Delta County Planning Commission's final public hearing on the Proposed Master Plan was Wednesday, May 9, at Delta High School. During the public comment period, about 29 people chose to express their opinions. Of the 29 speakers, 27 were opposed to oil and gas development (O&GD). These people ranged from young mothers, mature women, farmers, business people (one business person stated that she moved to Delta County from Parachute because of the impacts of O&GD) to regular concerned citizens. These folks were often cut off during their impassioned and scientifically factual testimony opposing oil and gas development and reminded to focus comments on specific sections. Sometimes, to the surprise of the committee, they then stated specific changes needed in the plan. One person stated during his public comment time that he had read all of the public comments submitted to the commission and not a single comment supported oil and gas development. All the comments are available on the commission's website.

At the end of the public comment period, each of the Planning Commission members made a statement. The first Planning Commission member to talk was Steve Schrock who boldly stated he gave more weight to the silent majority supporting oil and gas, than the multitudes of people from across the county who clearly stated opposition to O&GD. Schrock also readily admitted that he had no data demonstrating that there was or wasn't a majority supporting or opposing O&GD. One or two other members indicated agreement with Schrock, but also didn't supply proof of a majority for either side.

The key point here is that these demonstrated attitudes must be the reason that the comments in the proposed Master Plan directly supporting any specific energy development on page 66 is the following, "Residents expressed support for oil and gas during the Master Plan process often citing the need for jobs and tax revenues." The next statement is "Residents also expressed concerns about the impacts and unintended consequences of future oil and gas development such as to water and air quality, county roads and other infrastructure and services." The obviously missing statement is that a large number of county residents totally oppose O&GD. I now understand that the Planning Commission's bias caused the statements on O&GD that are in the draft. The majority of public comments were against O&GD and these comments had no impact on the statements in the draft.

The Planning Commission stated that they would develop a plan that reflected the vision and goals of the residents of Delta County. The driving public vision has been clear and consistent from day one: Delta County must protect clean air and water, prioritize the health, safety, and welfare of its residents and all new commercial and industrial development had to at least maintain and hopefully enhance this vision. Despite hundreds of comments agreeing with that statement, the Planning Commission, because of their bias, refuses to write the Master Plan to guarantee that vision.

Mike Drake
Paonia

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