As council members for the Town of Flower Mound, we continue to urge restraint regarding the rapid proliferation of Gas wells and their related industrial complexes into our town. Furthermore, we call upon our fellow council members to reconsider the moratorium that was rejected by a 3-2 vote on December 17, 2009, and to rescind the January 21, 2010, zoning changes that permit a Centralized Collection Facility to be located in Flower Mound.
In December, we possessed adequate information for reasonable doubt, and now with news of elevated levels of methane and carbon disulfide being reported, we renew our calls for a moratorium to insure the welfare of our residents.
The need for a moratorium is even more pronounced as today we are proposing significant revisions to Flower Mound’s oil and gas ordinances. In the past, when the town reviewed and adopted sweeping changes to town ordinances, a moratorium was standard practice to allow Town Council and staff adequate time to conduct a thorough review, and to draft and enact new legislation. Today a similar moratorium is necessary to stop a potential flood of new applications that would be grandfathered in by what will be an outdated ordinance, thereby negating any enhancements that may be considered. Make no mistake; while the town has been debating a moratorium, drilling applicants have been accelerating their submissions ahead of any changes that might occur. It’s as if the gas drillers are listening to our planning sessions and anticipating the town’s every move.
Former Council Member Jeff Tasker, now a local legal representative of the Williams Companies, was instrumental in guiding the Town Council to adopt the reduced setback variance process in 2007. With the onslaught of new applications, it is necessary to reconsider those variances, and establish a stricter process that protects our residents, rather than easing the burden on drillers. It’s a fact that every pad site that has been approved in Flower Mound, except one has received some type of variance. Why have ordinances when variances are seemingly granted carte blanche with every pad site application?
While we respect the rights of mineral owners to benefit from drilling on their lands, we must affirm that the rights of all residents are protected, and that drilling activities will not negatively impact the town as a whole.
Therefore, we are calling on our fellow council members to enact a six-month moratorium to new applications, which will allow sufficient time for Town Council to review and consider, but not limited to, the following items:
• Review our process for granting variances—specifically those affecting public parks, residences that do not have a mineral leases, religious institutions, public buildings, hospitals and schools.
• Reconsider the recent zoning amendment that allows for a centralized waste water collection facility in agricultural-zoned areas.
• Strongly consider adopting a process that mandates pad site recycling of the hazardous byproducts of fracking fluids.
• Adopt continuous air quality testing town-wide, including at each pad site. This can be accomplished with the following measures:
• Identify measures that will prevent our air from exceeding quality standards set forth by State and Federal agencies.
• Adopt ordinances to control production site emissions before they occur.
• Adoption of new standards for any spillage or environmental accidents by producers.
• Continuous pad site monitoring that includes Town staff participation in order to be certain impartiality is maintained.
• Imposition of penalties for air and water quality violations.
• Installation of vapor-recovery systems on all well sites and related wellhead equipment, i.e., tanks and compressors.
• Clarify ordinances to ensure injection wells are not permitted in the Flower Mound town limits.
• Adopt emergency procedures that provide a rapid response to resolve any infractions in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.
• Review insurance coverage’s required by gas drillers to ensure they adequately protect our residents from possible catastrophic events.
• Review fees collected from gas drillers to ensure the town is adequately compensated for its resources, including any and all damage done to our infrastructure.
Flower Mound is on the verge of a tenfold increase in gas wells that will be drilled in our town. We must be proactive in our response before we find ourselves in a position of wishing we had enacted improved ordinances and controls. In the coming months the industry will continue to press their agenda in creating an industrialized community in Flower Mound and our Oil and Gas ordinance must be prepared to meet the challenge.
Council Member Al Filidoro, Place 2
Council Member Tom Hayden, Place 5