Landowners appeal approval of drilling storage site Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff |

Landowners appeal approval of drilling storage site Patrick Parkinson Of the Record staff

The U.S. Forest Service has cleared the way for the Double Eagle Petroleum Company to drill a new oil well near the Tabletop area of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in 2006. But neighboring property owners in the Uinta Mountains oppose the development of a staging and storage area for oil drilling equipment near the edge of the forest. According to a Summit County Community Development Department staff report, to store equipment, the company has leased five acres roughly 100 feet from the Mirror Lake Highway near Bear River Service.

The company would lock the gate on a fence that currently surrounds the land and access the site via an existing dirt road, Summit County planner Denise Hytonen states. She estimates the facility would generate about two traffic trips a day between May 1 and Sept. 1, 2006.

But nearby property owners appealed the recent unanimous approval of a conditional use permit by the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission. A public hearing for the appeal will likely be scheduled before the Summit County Commission in January.

Arizona residents Gary and Sherrill Spendlove spend their summers in a cabin they own in the Wilderness Acres subdivision, which overlooks the proposed staging area.

"[We] don’t want to hear or see drilling equipment coming and going," the couple wrote Nov. 16 in an e-mail to Hytonen.

When they built the cabin several years ago "we had no idea that something like that could be built," Sherrill Spendlove said.

"I was very surprised," she added.

Approval of the storage facility sets a dangerous precedent in the area, Gary Spendlove added.

"My concern level is very high and I will continue to oppose any kind of conditional use permits for these types of endeavors," he said. "People go up there for rest and recreation."

According to Utahn Leslie White, the project would destroy roads and aesthetics in the mountain community made up of mostly summer homes.

Other neighbors, however, support approval of the permit as long as it’s temporary.

"I am not opposed to this recommendation," writes Kim Burgon in an e-mail Nov. 15. "I understand the need for exploration, but as a recreational property owner near the site, I would be opposed to any long-term conditional use permit."

"It is not for the drilling," stressed Planning Commissioner Ray Milliner, who voted Nov. 16 to approve the permit. "I don’t remember there being a lot of opposition."

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