Dallas City Council passes restrictive gas drilling ordinance
Dallas Morning News | Randy Lee Loftis
December 11, 2013
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Update, 2:33 p.m.: The council has adopted the plan commission’s recommendation for a 1,500-foot setback between wells and homes. Council Member Scott Griggs’ motion, which includes an ability for the council to reduce the setback in particular cases with a two-thirds vote, passed 9-6.
The council is hearing public comments before it votes on a new gas-drilling ordinance. Mayor Mike Rawlings said the council has already heard 100 hours of public input in the long runup to today’s vote, suggesting that nothing really remains except to hash out the final version.
The question is whether the council will go with the City Plan Commission’s recommendation of a 1,500-foot setback between drill sites and homes or a shorter distance. The city’s current ordinance requires 300 feet.
Notwithstanding Rawlings’ entreaty, speakers are reiterating points made in past proceedings.
Sharon Wilson, an Allen resident who works with Earthworks, an anti-fracking group, said she wanted to thank the council in advance for passing a strong ordinance.
And Dallas resident Eddie Morgan urged the council to keep drilling out of the city’s undeveloped parkland.
“We lived our childhood dreams and fantasies running through the woods,” he said.
But Bill Hastings of Dallas said a highly restrictive ordinance would shut off economic opportunities.
“Three hundred feet [between wells and homes] is too close and 1,500 feet is too far,” Hastings said.
Petroleum engineer Bill Crowder of Dallas predicted an economic and legal reckoning from an ordinance that he said might effectively ban drilling.
“I want you to look me in the eye next February or March,” he said, “when I ask you, ‘What the heck were you thinking?’”