Payette County Planning and Zoning Commissioners want to put the "condition" back in conditional use permit before giving a green light to Bridge Resources' plans for an industrial dehydration facility in the middle of New Plymouth farmland.
When Thursday night's P&Z meeting began at 7 p.m. at the Payette County Courthouse, it was packed with more than 100 attendees and a couple dozen more spilling into the hallway. TV cameras were poised to capture the debate. But two hours into the meeting, TV crews had packed up and the attendance was down to about 80. Three hours into the meeting, a continuing stream of residents testified against the proposal, claiming it would infringe on the their quality of rural life. By midnight, 28 people had testified against the conditional use permit and five people had testified in favor. All five in support of the natural gas dehydration facility either worked for or were contracted with Bridge or worked in the oil and gas industry.
"A duck is a duck is a duck," said Manuel Borge, who lives a mile and a half from the parcel of land where Bridge wants to build its facility. "I'm not afraid to call this what it is: a refinery. By the way, if any of you commissioners would like to build this next to your home, I would be more than happy to support that."
But Steve West of Centra Consulting, Bridge's project point-person, sat before commissioners throughout the evening defending the need for the facility. Bridge has been successfully drilling for natural gas throughout the New Plymouth area and now needs the facility to pull thousands of gallons of condensation and oil away from the gas before sending the gas into a mainline for commercial use.
"There's an awful lot of misinformation out there," said West. "This is not a refinery. It's an apples and oranges comparison."
"This is more like apples and crabapples," said Liz Amason, a Payette resident. "It's obvious this thing belongs in an industrial area, not farmland."
But six hours into the meeting, P&Z commissioners decided to tack on more than a dozen extra conditions to Bridge's permit even before they would consider it. The list of 13 additions is expected to include new rules on noise, air quality and the impact of industrial light in an area that enjoys a pristine night sky.
You can read more about the marathon session in next Wednesday's Boise Weekly.