Delta Petroleum pays $47,200 fine for lack of permits

Delta Petroleum has agreed to pay $47,200 for pushing forward earlier this year with the construction of a compressor station near Collbran without the proper county permits.

“Delta has agreed to pay the maximum possible fine,” Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland said. “I had hoped all along that Delta would just step up and say, ‘You know what, we didn’t do this right,’ and pay the fee, and that is what they did.”

Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock signed the agreement Wednesday. It has yet to be signed by Delta’s president and CEO, but Peacock said he is confident it will be signed.

The money won’t be going into Mesa County’s coffers, though.

“We are going to have Delta pay those funds directly to the town of Collbran to be used to offset the effect of energy impacts,” Peacock said. “It is good that they have recognized that they need to do something to compensate the community for violating those rules.”

Delta Petroleum had started construction of a natural gas compressor station, at 69861 E. Colorado Highway 330, on 6.5 acres northeast of Vega Reservoir, prior to applying for and receiving a conditional-use permit from the county. Shortly after construction started, it did apply for the required permit, but continued with construction until the company was issued a cease-and-desist order July 10 by Mesa County Code Enforcement.

On July 24 the Mesa County Planning Commission heard Delta Petroleum’s request for the conditional-use permit and denied it on a 3-2 vote. On Aug. 12 the company appealed to the Mesa County Commission and was granted the permit, allowing the company to finish the construction of its compressor station.

But the matter of the fine, potentially $100 a day for every day the company was in violation, remained unsettled. Dan Robinson, a Democratic candidate for the Mesa County Commission’s District 1 seat, criticized the commission for failing to act responsibly and called for them to impose a hefty fine on the company.

“I am glad to see that they were held accountable for such an egregious violation of our land-use code, and I think the amount was probably less than it should have been, but it’s better than nothing,” Robinson said Thursday. “And I am really happy to hear that the people of Collbran are the beneficiaries of this.”

Rowland said the commission has no authority to levy fines. In order to have Delta pay any monies, it would have had to take the company to court.

Then, if the county was victorious, the fines would have gone to the state, not the county, she said.

“Counties don’t have the authority to level fines. We always have to go to court, which we were prepared to do,” she said. “They should be held accountable, and they have been. I think it is a win-win-win.”

Officials at Delta Petroleum did not return messages for comment Thursday.


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