Aurora City Council gives green light to oil and gas development negotiations

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AURORA | Oil and gas development applications with the City of Aurora may now become operator agreements, or negotiations between the private companies and city lawmakers.

The measure got a unanimous thumbs up from the city council Monday night. 

Ward II Councilwoman Nicole Johnston, who briefly floated submitting a six-month moratorium with the exception of operator agreements, said she supported the ordinance but added that her hope is “the majority of our city council does not take this as, ‘let’s rush this forward.’” 

Some on the council wanted to give the measure “emergency” status but failed to get the required unanimous approval.

The ordinance allows the city to work with oil and gas developers to reach agreements over the permitting process and standards regarding drilling in city limits. A similar process is used in Broomfield.

The oil and gas applications approved through an operator agreement would not be subject to the current appeal process or call-up provisions of the zoning code, according to the bill. Oil and gas applicants would still have the ability to apply for development through the current process.

Oil and gas negotiations have been ongoing during city council executive sessions, which exclude public participation. It’s so far unclear how those negotiations may be impacted by the timeline of approving operator agreements.

City council members declined to officially back state legislation last month that gives oil and gas development to local control.