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Prowers Planning Commission Considers Two Business Venture Requests

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Two new business proposals were presented to the Prowers County Planning Commission Wednesday, June 8th; a public hearing was held for a special use permit request from an oil development company and a subdivision request to separate a six acre subdivision into three tracts.

Robert Flournoy, President of Dallas-based Energy Investment Partners LLC, was granted the permit for a drilling venture on privately owned land in northern Prowers County. His company is an independent oil and gas exploration firm that searches for shallow, low-risk and affordable projects in areas that include the Rocky Mountain Region.

Keith Siemsen, County Land Use Supervisor, outlined the proposal for a 5,300 foot vertical shaft to be drilled into the property in a search for, “Oil and maybe a little bit of gas,” as was mentioned by Flournoy. Asked if his operation would employ any fracking, Flournoy said that it would not be necessary, given the limestone deposit he would be drilling into. “We may use an acid solution to dissolve the limestone around the drill,” but he said that would be the extent of that procedure as fracking is more common with drilling into shale deposits and that was not the case here.

His schedule included securing a bid from a contractor by the end of this July and expected the drilling to be done by the start of September. The special use permit will be in effect until June 8, 2017 to begin operations, but Flournoy stated that he is ready to begin several months from now. He added that if his venture is financially viable, there would be consideration of additional drilling in the area. Siemsen said the Commission’s approval of the permit would be forwarded to the Prowers County Commissioners for action on their part.

Doug Thrall, Lamar businessman, presented a request review to amend an existing subdivision which would separate one six acre site into three sites to allow a proposed paint and body shop to be developed on the land just off County Road 7, west of Lamar. The building on the property was used for one short season as a farmer’s market and prior to that, as a used car sales lot, Colorado East Auto Sales.

Brothers Bernie and Dustin Smith of Stratton, Colorado, are the principals in the paint and body shop venture, who stated they have considerable experience in the profession and after a search for a suitable location, decided on Lamar. Once approval has been given they plan to add on to the rear of the building by another 30 by 80 feet to incorporate their operation and construct a ten foot tall, steel fence surrounding the rear of the property which will section off the holding yard from pubic view. The land is currently zoned Highway/Commercial and plans call for handling work on busses and semis.

Commission members stressed their concerns that the body shop not eventually turn into another salvage yard that lines the entrances into Prowers County. In a fairly unanimous statement, the board members said they don’t want to see this start out with just several cars on the property and in another year, swell to 40 or 50, rusting and sitting in the middle of a lot filled with weeds. Doug Thrall said that was a stipulation he mentioned to the Smiths for their operation, as he is planning to locate a 60 unit motel on the remaining adjacent land at some point in the future. “I don’t want to spend that kind of money only to have a junk yard as the motel’s view, so we’ve been specific about how this will appear from the highway,” he added. Thrall stated that his plans for a second motel aren’t immediate, but do tie in to the eventual Reliever Route proposed by CDOT, expected to start in the next five or six years.

The meeting closed following a general discussion regarding how best to regulate the encroachment of salvage yard operations that are found along the county’s main highways. The subject has been in front of the Planning Commission for some time.

By Russ Baldwin

 

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