New Man Camp Regs May Test Private Property Rights

Will oil and gas companies be allowed to set up small temporary man camps on private land without the landowner’s permission or county review? Three Garfield County commissioners will be determining that proposal today. To relieve a housing shortage for its workers, Garfield County has allowed oil and gas companies to construct temporary housing facilities, commonly called man camps, at natural gas drilling sites.

The permitting process is time-consuming and includes a special hearing before the county commissioners for every unit. Energy companies have requested the commissioners to streamline this process, which would include building man camps for up to six workers on private property — and without necessarily needing the landowner’s permission.

The county has approved about 10 sites with approximately 45 units since 2007.

Commissioners are also considering the use of recreational vehicles for shelter.

A community activist group, the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, is opposing surface landowners already impacted by drilling over whether the proposed regulations constitute an attack on private property rights, according to a prepared statement by the alliance. The group also suggests that if oil and gas companies can build man camps on private property, other businesses may ask for that right.

The commissioners’ hearing on the new proposed man camp permitting process is to start at 1 p.m. at the Court House Annex in Glenwood Springs.

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