At the Denton City Council meeting Tuesday, the City Council approved an ordinance requiring Protected Uses — such as new residences, schools, churches and parks — to be set back 500 feet from gas well sites. The previous distance requirement, or reverse setback, was 250 feet.
More than 300 people attended the public hearing for the reconsideration of an ordinance adopted on Nov. 19, 2019. The City Council heard from 44 speakers before voting, according to a news release from the city.
After hearing public feedback and concerns from property owners, the council approved an ordinance that states all existing Protected Uses within the 500-foot reverse setback are conforming with the Denton Development Code. As a conforming structure, in the event of a natural disaster or accident, existing Protected Uses can be rebuilt so long as the use complies with all other zoning requirements, according to the city. The ordinance will also allow property owners to add on to their structure.
Previously, a gas well reverse setback ordinance was considered on Nov. 19 and a motion was passed to approve increasing reverse setbacks to 500 feet, with the requirement that the Zoning Board of Adjustment approve variances to rebuild a Protected Use if more than 50 percent of a structure is damaged. On Dec. 2, the City Council passed a motion to reconsider adoption of the ordinance from Nov. 19. The ordinance was re-evaluated to notify properties within 500 feet of a gas well site, engage in further discussion regarding how the ordinance would be applied, and discuss nonconformities created by increasing the reverse gas well setback, according to the city.
Under the ordinance passed Jan. 28, no new Protected Uses can be built within 500 feet of a gas well site without Zoning Board of Adjustment approval of a variance. In certain circumstances, city staff has the authority to approve the construction of a Protected Use between 375 feet and 500 feet of a gas well site. All new Protected Uses must be no closer than 250 feet from a gas well site.