Williams, who holds some gas leases in Double Oak, wants to sink some new wells at the same location on Simmons Road, the Meece/Trout property, where Red Oak already has drilled. Accordingly, they applied to Double Oak Planning and Zoning and a public hearing was scheduled July 27th. The Town Hall was well attended by folks for and against drilling but after waiting for quite a while, the meeting had to be cancelled due to a lack of a quorum. How could that happen?
Several members of the Committee had to recluse themselves from the session because they had leased mineral rights to Williams. Voting would have been an ethics violation. The committee was short one member already because Gary Garrett had to leave P&Z when he was elected to Town Council. Every other member needed to be present in order to have a meeting. Then, at the last minute, one of the board members had to take his wife to the hospital due to a medical emergency. If there is no quorum, there can be no meeting.
All of us that attended were disappointed. One visitor asked me why a member of Town Council or some other substitute could not sit in to make a quorum. Sorry, not legal. I was delighted by the crowd. Council chambers were full to fire code capacity. People were standing in the lobby and even outside. I know P&Z member Nils Martin went to extraordinary effort to be at the meeting. He was on a business trip and had to return early to attend.
P&Z Chairman, Steve Howard, rescheduled the meeting to start at 5:30 PM on August 16, allowing one and one half hours before the scheduled Town Council meeting. It is a disappointment to me because our government works best when we all have plenty of time for citizens to participate. Double Oak has a great mayor. He has been working behind the scenes to try to make this drill site, if it is approved, to be a model site to be held up as an example of how to do the job safely.
Drillers have created a real problem for themselves. The problems in DISH, Texas are an example where shaving costs and not keeping a site safe have caused problems for residents and an anti-drilling sentiment in North Texas. The next wells in the area need to show how drilling can be done so that both residents and our precious aquifer can be kept safe.
I have some concerns about the state agencies that are supposed to protect us. Where were the Railroad Commission and the TCEQ when gas wells were making the folks in DISH, TX sick? Austin, TX is too far from Double Oak! I do believe we can count on help from our elected representatives not only in the Town of Double Oak, but Andy Eads, Tan Parker, Senator Chris Harris and U. S. Representative Dr. Burgess as well. We need to make Williams understand that is in their best interest and in the interest of the whole drilling industry that they do it right from now on.
Dick Cook is a longtime Double Oak resident and former Double Oak Mayor and Town Council member.