After the unprecedented turnout in the municipal election last May, the Town Council was given the mandate of putting the health, safety, and welfare of Flower Mound and its residents first. The new Council understood this direction and quickly took action.
Upon election of the new Town Council majority, our Town Manager immediately enacted an administrative moratorium on oil and gas pipeline and central collection facility applications, and two weeks later suspended the issuance of natural gas drilling and production permits. Your Town Council immediately followed suit on June 7, less than a month after being elected, by adopting an ordinance submitted with an accompanying petition that officially declared a moratorium on natural gas drilling, pipeline, and centralized collection facility permits.
At the next meeting, Town Council appointed an Oil and Gas Advisory Board to conduct an A to Z review of the Town’s current ordinances governing natural gas drilling in Flower Mound, as requested by the petitioners and supported by a majority of the Town Council. The Board was directed to study all aspects of the gas drilling process, centralized collection facilities, and natural gas pipelines, evaluate state and national agency regulations, and provide a comprehensive recommendation to the Town Council regarding suggested updates and changes to the Town’s ordinances.
Flower Mound is not alone in being faced with this complicated issue and difficult process, as these same concerns are being addressed and debated in communities across the United States. We are more aggressively proactive in our approach in that we choose to solicit resident feedback and input as much as possible. I believe that in the future a comparison of results will demonstrate that our approach better served the entire community.
During the past nine months, Town Council has extended the moratoriums a total of three times in order to allow the Board ample time to complete its work, and the last moratorium renewals provided that the moratoriums are renewed at the same time in the future. The council has the option to extend them again, and renewal seems logical as we continue to review the Town’s oil and gas ordinances. But, moratoriums are not the end-all-be-all solution for Flower Mound’s gas drilling issues. We believe that the new ordinances, once adopted, will address all of the concerns our residents have about gas drilling.
The Oil and Gas Advisory Board presented its official recommendations to Town Council in January. The Town Council is extremely grateful for the time and effort the Oil and Gas Advisory Board dedicated to formulating its recommended amendments to existing Town gas drilling ordinances. While typical boards and commissions meet monthly or even quarterly, this Board chose to meet several times a month. We know they are fatigued, and we are also thankful to their families for sacrificing to allow the board members to serve the community.
There is still work to be done. Now it’s time for the Town Council to roll up our sleeves and honor the work completed by the Oil and Gas Advisory Board by seeing this project through to fruition. We are currently in the process of reviewing the Board’s proposals, hearing expert testimony, and receiving legal consultation regarding ordinance updates.
Residents should rest assured that a majority of the Town Council certainly agrees with most Town residents that centralized collection facilities have no place in Flower Mound, now or in the future. Mayor Northern, Councilmember Hayden, Councilmember Lyda, and I are dedicated to ensuring the Board’s recommendations receive timely and appropriate review and consideration, and the Town Council will not act in haste. If an additional short extension of the moratoriums is necessary, I am confident that will occur.
I am grateful to the Oil and Gas Advisory Board for its time and work, and to the hundreds of residents who provided feedback by attending the public meetings, sending emails, or calling your councilmembers. I would also like to thank the community for your patience during this long process. It has been an honor to serve on the Town Council during a time when we are addressing an issue that will have a significant impact on the quality of life, health, safety, and welfare of all Flower Mound residents now and well into the future.