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New pipeline regulations will protect town

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There have been several emails and much talk about natural gas operations in Flower Mound lately. And I truly believe it is good that people are taking an interest in their community and getting more involved.

 

On January 21, 2010, town council voted on two items that have generated a lot of attention. The first item council
approved was a change to the Oil and Gas pipeline standards. The previous ordinance allowed a gas company to build a pipeline and transmit production fluids (produced water and frac water) using buried PVC pipe. The approved, updated ordinance requires significant safety improvements from the old PVC pipeline standard. The new standard requires a corrosion resistant fiberglass pipeline system with high pressure capabilities, threaded connections and o-ring seals that has automatic pressure monitoring and other compliance controls. Additionally the new pipeline ordinance requires a vapor recovery system (VPS) if the pipeline is to be associated with a centralized collection facility.

The second item council approved was to amend Flower Mound’s Land Development Regulations. The change added
detail and technical standards that were not included in any previous Town ordinance and the new standard added
specific definitions and uses of a centralized facility by component piece (Gas Lift, Gas Compression and Produced
Water) as a specific use in the Agricultural zoning district. Before the update, the town risked the potential claim that a centralized facility was allowed under the previous ordinance and could be built because the prior ordinance listed
petroleum storage/collection facility and transmission pipelines as a specific use in an Agricultural zoning district (Sec.
98-273). I voted in favor of the changes to provide specific uses, definitions and enhanced standards where Flower
Mound would be able to set the standard instead of others potentially setting the standard they want. The town council can still say no to any part of a centralized facility.

Shortly after the changes were approved by town council, a group of citizens announced plans to circulate petitions in an effort to repeal the new regulations and zoning ordinance as well as the new version of the pipeline ordinance. The petition/repeal (initiative) process could produce unexpected, negative consequences.

The Town Charter prohibits the initiative process from being utilized to repeal a zoning ordinance and state law does not allow zoning ordinances (other than the initial adoption of a zoning ordinance) to be adopted through the initiative process.

A repeal of the new pipeline standard has the potential of eliminating all of Flower Mound’s pipeline standards. This
would give pipeline companies an open invitation to take advantage of Flower Mound. The reason that a gas pipeline
company is different from any other land developer is that gas pipeline companies have the power of eminent domain. Flower Mound must have regulations and protections in place to ensure the town has as much control as possible.

There have been a few people who have stated these two votes promote the industrialization of Flower Mound or these actions were made in support of gas companies. Neither of these items increases gas drilling nor do they authorize the building of a centralized facility. A few may read this and say these actions were not necessary, but I believe these items protect Flower Mound’s quality of life and put in place safeguards to protect our property values and the safety of our families.

Steve Dixon
Deputy Mayor Pro Tem
Flower Mound Town Council, Place 1

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