After more than a year of public input and review process, the Flower Mound Town Council adopted two new ordinances Monday night pertaining to oil and gas exploration.
The updated Oil and Gas Well Ordinance differs from its prior counterpart in several significant categories including setbacks and variances, monitoring requirements, emergency plans, and administrative approvals.
Setbacks have been increased from 500 to 1,500 feet for residences with mineral interests and from 1,000 to 1,500 feet for residences without mineral interests.
The setback for schools, religious institutions, public parks, hospitals, and water wells increased from 1,000 to 1,500 feet, and from 500 to 750 feet for property lines, floodplains, and public roads or rights-of-ways.
Oil and gas wells qualifying for administrative approval must now undergo a public review process with notification sent to nearby property owners.
Monitoring requirements include water well testing, pre-and post-drilling soil sampling, continued air quality monitoring by the Town, and the establishment of daytime and nighttime noise levels with mitigation procedures for drilling, fracking, and production operations.
In addition, emergency plans must now include provisions for residential evacuation and the installation of an audible alarm to signal drops in pressure, the release of gas, or a fire.
Flower Mound’s new Pipeline Ordinance also includes several significant changes from the prior version. The Specific Use Permit process for Centralized Facilities was repealed in its entirety and a zoning amendment is now required if a centralized facility is proposed. Zoning Amendments require review by and public hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Council.
If a zoning amendment is approved, thereafter a specific use permit is required, with review and public hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town Council.
Flower Mound’s moratorium related to the submission of new gas well permits is projected to be terminated July 29. All subsequent applications will be subject to the new ordinances, town officials said.
Changes to the ordinances resulted from the work of a volunteer Oil and Gas Advisory Board, public hearings, expert testimony, legal review, and Town Council input.
The new ordinances received accolades from the citizen’s advocacy group, Flower Mound Citizens Against Urban Drilling, which published the following statement on their website: “After close to four years of hard work, we are very happy to see stronger regulations in place. We are lucky to have elected officials in place that are willing to protect all residents. Whether you are a non-mineral owner, a mineral owner that hasn’t signed a lease or a mineral owner that has chosen to lease, the best drilling practices are in place to protect your health, safety and property values.”
The new Oil and Gas Well Ordinance and the new Pipeline Ordinance become effective upon signature and publication.