Questar seeks zone change request from county
Pines End Ranch south of Pinedale
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
September 4, 2009
Questar Exploration and Production Company purchased a 206.7 acre parcel of agricultural land south of Pinedale recently and has come before the county to request a zone change for portions of the property. The property is known as the Pines End Ranch, so named because it includes the confluence of Pine Creek where it flows into the New Fork River approximately three miles south of Pinedale along US 191.
Questar, a major natural gas exploration and production company, is an operator on the Pinedale Anticline natural gas field south of Pinedale. Questar is proposing to build an office building on the property and create an equipment storing/staging area and garage nearby. To do this new use, the company is asking the county to rezone 7.79 acres from Agricultural to General Commercial and 13.41 acres from Agricultural to Light Industrial.
The company went before the Sublette County Planning & Zoning Board on August 25th to discuss the zone change request. There were several objections from neighbors, none of whom favored the facility. Most objected more to the industrially zoned equipment yard than the office area. The Planning and Zoning Commission opted to table the application at that meeting and readdress it at their September 17th meeting (6:30 PM in the Commissioners Room of the courthouse in Pinedale).
According to the Staff Report by Sublette County Planning Commission Administrator Bart Myers, the storage of drilling rigs and hazardous materials will not be allowed at the site. Questar wants to use it to store new and used equipment which they will use in their nearby natural gas field operations. Equipment used includes pipe, well head components, pre-constructed building(s) used on well pads, empty 500 gallon tanks and tank stands, a compressed natural gas fueling station, vehicles and equipment. Vehicles used would be passenger type vehicles/trucks, an emergency response trailer, and forklift. Deliveries made to the site would be on an infrequent basis. Most of the equipment Questar uses is delivered by rail road to Rock Springs and transported directly to their well sites.
"We are not going to be storing any hazardous materials on the site," said Questar District Manager, Kevin Williams. The industrial area will have an eight-foot fence around the site with Cottonwood and Willow trees planted around the perimeter of the fence. The 500 gallon tanks stored in the industrial area will be empty. "Those will be brand new tanks," Williams said. The company wants to use the area as a pre-use staging area for new equipment for the production phase of their wells.
Williams added that the new office building will have a ranch-barn type appearance that is visually appealing. "This is a long term-commitment to the community. As our presence continues to grow in Sublette County, we need a facility that is large enough to accommodate our future needs."
One of the contentious issues about the original proposed zone change request was the possibility of including a road easement to the Mesa for an industrial bypass road for gas-field traffic. Adjacent property owners have indicated they object to the zone change proposal and will not grant rights-of-way to complete the connections between the properties. The bypass road aspect is "off the table" now and unattached to the current zone change request. According to the Staff Report, the possibility of the bypass road was a factor in Questar’s decision to purchase this particular piece of property.
The Pines End Ranch includes portions of Pine Creek and the New Fork River. The river is popular for float fishing. Williams said they do not have any plans to change the current fishing use through their property.
Questar has scheduled a public meeting in Pinedale on Wednesday, September 16th at the Sublette County Library from 6:00 to 8:00 PM to give the public an opportunity to get more information about the proposal and ask questions.
Click on this link to read the Sublette County Planning Commission Staff Report by Bart Myers: Sublette County Planning Commission Staff Report by Bart Myers (August 10, 2009, 15 page PDF, 1554K)