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Proposed tree removal has town seeing red PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 15:27

Flower Mound leaders this week sent a loud and clear message to Atmos Energy: Don't mess with our trees.

Atmos officials publicly announced their intention at Monday night's town council meeting to clear cut 25-feet on either side of their natural gas pipeline that runs 12 miles through Flower Mound.

Charles Yarbrough, Vice President at Atmos Pipeline-Texas, explained that the trees needed to be removed from their right-of-ways to protect the 24-inch high pressure pipeline that is located primarily in private easements.

"It is because of safety," said Yarbrough.

He explained that the trees hinder their response to an emergency situation, prevent effective surveys required by federal and state regulations and the tree roots can cause damage to the pipeline.

Sherry Kelley, Vice President of Operations at Atmos, told council members that the company uses a helicopter to check the pipeline for problems and the tree canopies blocked its view from above.

Some of the affected neighborhoods include Tour 18, Wellington, Kensington Court, Sanctuary, Old Settlers, Oaks of Lake Forest, Lake Forest, Doubletree Trail, Lexington, and the Lakeside business district. See map here. More detailed maps here (large PDF file).

Yarbrough said that the pipeline, which runs from Clay County, TX to Irving, first went into commission in October 1960.

He admitted that tree maintenance should have been done earlier but stressed that it needs to happen now in order to enhance safety. He informed council that the work was scheduled to begin November 1 and warned them that failing to clear the trees would put citizens at risk.

"Our hope was to be able to target three areas initially before the holidays; Tour 18, the industrial area on the east side of town, and the Sanctuary."

Their presentation drew a strong rebuke from Mayor Tom Hayden, council members and Texas Senator Jane Nelson.

"Right through the heart of town, a logging operation is coming next to people’s properties," said Hayden.  "It seems like you're doing it because you can, not because you’re concerned about the residents of Flower Mound."

Senator Nelson, a Tour 18 resident, stated that according to her research tree removal is not a federal requirement.

"There is no requirement in state or federal law to clear the right of way, nor is there a requirement in law that is directing Atmos to take this specific action," said Nelson. "I have expressed to Atmos my strong dissatisfaction over the lack of discussion or even adequate notice that was provided."

Yarbrough apologized for the communication breakdown that resulted in some landowners and homeowner's associations being notified before town officials.

"What has happened here in Flower Mound is that initial contacts have resulted in information being spread out in a wider way than we originally intended.  We didn't ask anybody to post it on a website," said Yarbrough.

At the end of the meeting, Yarbrough agreed to work with the town staff to find common ground in order to minimize tree removal and wait until after the first of the year before any work begins.

"We've gotten off on the wrong foot but I hope we can get back on the right foot quickly," said Yarbrough.

 

 

Comments  

 
-1 #14 WR 2012-12-29 13:33
I live in the Woods of Wellington along the 12 mile area. Almost every tree, as of December 23, was tagged for removal. Looks to me like they are not being conservative.
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+8 #13 Oh no 2012-10-23 12:27
@Charlie - Exactly right

I wonder if it is easier to address a leak and/or fire with a bunch of trees in the way????

Educate yourselves people.
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+13 #12 Charlie Barrett 2012-10-23 07:08
Has anyone seen the utter devastation that even a small leak in a high-pressure gas line can cause?

We're not talking about low-pressure home or pipes here, which may be just a few PSI above atmospheric pressure, or even gas well pressures, which are relatively low volume and thus the pressure falls off sharply when a leak occurs.

No, we're talking about many hundreds of PSI combined with almost unlimited volume potential, which combines to take mere SECONDS to dump out enough natural gas in massive volumes to destroy whole NEIGHBORHOODS before automatic shutoff valves sense the leak.

I'm sorry that the trees were planted in the wrong place, but they were planted in places that may result in deaths, and the risk over time is not that low.
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+11 #11 Easement 2012-10-18 20:12
You can go on google earth and make out the PL easement through Flower Mound so its not like this is virgin forest . . .
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+10 #10 Eric 2012-10-18 14:45
Let's not forget, Atmos has a LOT of experience here. This is how they operate. They show up, Big and Bad, and say "We're clearcutting a 50' wide path thru several miles of your town because WE CAN!"

Cue citizen outrage.

Atmos returns and says "We've listened to you and we will make the following concessions"

AND THEY GET EXACTLY WHAT THEY INTENDED TO GET. I'm sure they NEVER intend to do what is the maximum allowed, but something less.

They just need to LET us "feel" like we "won" something.

Sucks to be manipulated, but there you have it.
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+9 #9 @freebird 2012-10-18 13:11
You make great points ....

Where does Webb live .... no the pipeline doesn't go by his house.

Dixon... no, the pipeline isn't really close to his house.

Lets see, Hayden and Wise live Bridlewood, no this really doesn't impact them either.


Let's see Levenick, no she isnt directly impacted.

So 5 members of Council are not directly impacted pipeline.

Freebird, guess your arguement doesn't hold.
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+13 #8 Bob Weir 2012-10-18 10:47
Let's give credit where it's due. With about 13 miles of digging across our town, the affected areas will include a lot more than Council members' homes. What I watched on Monday evening was a Town Council that was thoroughly engaged in a fight to protect the rural nature of the town that elected them to be good stewards of the community. I've been critical of some of their decisions, but I must admit I've seldom seen a Council so well-prepared to stand up for their constituents in a no-holds-barred display of good governance. The day after the Council meeting, I heaped praise on Senator Nelson at the FM GOP dinner, where she was the guest speaker. "The Conservationist ," a term coined for her by Mayor Hayden, spoke about the pipeline company's lack of communication and disinterest in the town's landscape. We're lucky to have reps who are unafraid to take on the powerful entities that would have their way with us.
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+12 #7 Matthew T 2012-10-18 10:29
While the proposed clear cutting would not be as scaring as it would be through an actual forest, I am glad that the town is still being very defensive about all of the trees, regardless of who wants to cut them down and why. This is an example of the town's strict policies on trees, the environment, and aesthetics is doing everyone good. Eventually some trees will be cut down, but I hope that most healthy mature specimens can remain, keeping nature's overall beauty intact.
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+6 #6 Freecitizen 2012-10-18 10:03
Bitter? Not bitter at all.
Again, this is all about protecting the asthetics of their neighborhoods.
The town council should be as passionate about all areas of the city.
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+20 #5 You all 2012-10-18 10:00
If there is a problem with the pipeline (leak, fire, etc) the same people complaining now will be the first ones complaining about how Atmos did nothing to safeguard the pipeline.
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