Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Denton discusses new drilling ordinances as moratorium nears end
Denton's drilling moratorium ends on Dec. 18.
DENTON Denton’s Gas Well Task Force hosted the last of 17 public meetings on proposed revisions to the city’s gas well ordinance Monday night.
Major proposed changes to the new ordinance, which were released Friday, include the requirement that both gas well permits and gas well development site plans expire within two years. The city would also be authorized to issue citations in municipal court for violations, and gas drilling companies would be required to monitor the environmental impact of gas wells and issue annual reports, according to the proposed ordinance revisions.
The city council is expected to approve the proposed changes, but a final ordinance is still in the works and open to public input.
“This is definitely a living document,” said Vicki Oppenheim, a member of the task force. “There are still changes being made.”
Clarifications of definitions in the drilling code and legal jargon make up the bulk of the proposed changes.
Public speaker Marshall Krupka cautioned against over-regulating the drilling industry. He said drilling in the region creates jobs and defended the track records of oil companies in North Texas.
“This industry that we criticize so much is making a positive influence in our lives today, even as we speak,” Krupka said.
Members of the anti-drilling group Denton Off Fossil Fuels said that the city needed to hold more public meetings and argued that more time was necessary for residents to look over the ordinance. The group also noted that the ordinance was not translated into Spanish, saying that it excluded the 16 percent of households in Denton that speak Spanish.
Computer science graduate student Angel Bravo addressed the task force in Spanish, claiming that the city ignored requests from Denton residents.
“So if you cannot understand this, now you know what those 16 percent in Denton feel like,” Bravo said, concluding in English.
The task force did not decide on whether to have the document translated into Spanish, gas well administrator Darren Groth said.
The city’s planning and zoning commission will handle the next step in the drafting of a new gas well ordinance at a meeting Wednesday, and the city council will address it on Nov. 6.
The current moratorium on gas well drilling expires Dec. 18, seen as the deadline to implement a new permanent gas well ordinance.
Public comments and the proposed changes to the ordinance are posted at cityofdenton.com.
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