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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Arlington, TX: The Undeveloped Land

Undeveloped Land next to Chesapeake's Fulson Drill Site, So. Hwy. 360, Arlington, TX

Fracking damages the land.  Not only does it damage the land inside the perimeter of these beige, cosmetic masonry walls of pad sites, but it also ruins potential land use for the surrounding area.  The land depicted in this picture has remained barren since the City zoned the Fulson Drill Site in 2009.  Let's face it, no one wants to develop property that is adjacent to a heavy industrial mining site where gas gathering pipelines criss-cross its span ~ unless, perhaps, they give away the land at a deeply discounted price.  

Now, zoning an industrial use next to a fracking site would not be so objectionable if there were not already 60 or so sites in Arlington which are zoned for residential neighborhoods.  So, just what DO you do when you learn that the pie-in-the-sky master plan that the oil and gas industry pitched to our City six years ago was just a pipe dream, and we now have to deal with the nightmare of the fracking aftermath ~ Undeveloped Land all across the "American Dream City?" 

Well, some developers seem to think it is just fine to build homes next to existing drill sites.  There are no laws prohibiting them from doing so, but just because you can doesn't mean you should.  It's wrong.  This complex issue is about private property rights, but it is also about ethics.  Doing the right thing.  The Makens Company wants the City to change the zoning from commercial to residential for their property on South Highway 360 next to Chesapeake's Fulson Drill Site.  

It would be a terrible tragedy if an unsuspecting young couple purchased their dream home, gave birth to a child, and adopted a pet only to awaken one morning to a looming drilling rig outside their child's bedroom window.  This can and has happened because Texas has no disclosure laws requiring sellers to tell potential buyers that these homes are next to a drill site and that heavy industrial mining activity could occur at any time into perpetuity.  This very situation is what led Denton residents to work toward a fracking ban which our Oiligarchy State overturned when they passed HB40.

Arlington's gas drilling ordinance does not address reciprocal setbacks for new development going in next to existing drill sites.  Mansfield's ordinance doesn't either, and look at the fiasco that is happening there:

New home construction next to gas drilling site on Debbie Lane in Mansfield, TX

Arlington's current gas-drilling ordinance mandates a 600-foot setback from a protected use with a variance to 300 feet, but this measurement is taken from the wellhead, not the pad wall.  We have gone to our City on numerous occasions asking for an ordinance revision, but they keep kicking the can down the road.  It appears they enjoy basking in the shade of HB40. 

Now, the City of Arlington seems to be in a hurry to meet with the Fish Creek Neighbors ~ so much in a hurry that we are told by one resident that this meeting cannot wait another day.  We don't even know the time, but we know the date and the place of this meeting ~ Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church.  Since Monday is Labor Day, we will meet on Tuesday.  This will ensure low turnout, which is what we believe the City is counting on.  Here is the e-mail that arrived in my box on Friday:
(Note that gas drilling is NOT mentioned in the Fish Creek Neighborhood Plan.)

We certainly hope that Chesapeake plans to plug those three wells if the City approves a zoning change for The Makens Company, because gas drilling in such close proximity to a neighborhood is downright dangerous.  These two land uses are clearly incompatible.  These wells are experiencing declining production anyway.  The trickling royalty checks arrive with less frequency ~ and the amount barely covers a family's pizza and coke for Friday night dinner.  

Stay tuned, and we'll update this story as we learn more details...

In the meantime, here is an important back story: