Minority Report of the City of Denton Gas Well Task ForcePresented to the City of Denton City Council
by Thomas La Point and Vicki OppenheimMembers of the Denton Gas Well Task Force April 24, 2012
We are writing this “minority report” to provide the Denton City Council with viewpoints andinformation on important action items that were not approved by the Denton Task Force. Thecitizen input has overwhelmingly declared that several topics are of great importance to thecommunity: composition of the Task Force and procedures, air quality, water quality, noise,public notification, and facility location and distances. We assert that these topics will beincreasingly important to the Denton community, as gas wells and related facilities continueto locate in a highly urbanized area. The City of Denton population is projected to grow from113,383 people in 2010 and a density of 1194.8 persons per square mile to 207,334 people anda corresponding increasing density by 2030
.Gas production facilities are allowed to locate in all zoning districts, though some facilitiesrequire a Specific Use Permit and others are allowed “by right.” Gas drilling and productionfacilities are an industrial use. They are not treated, however, like most other industrial facilitiesthat would be predominantly restricted by use to industrial zoning districts, unless already inoperation prior to the ordinance or annexed to the City. Gas drilling facilities may locate inresidential neighborhoods and near protected uses, as long as they meet distance requirementsoutlined in the Denton Development Code.
One other aspect important to development of a revised ordinance for the City of Denton hasbeen the recent concern expressed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) onthe contribution to overall poor air quality by natural gas development. It should be recognizedthat Denton is growing in population density. Hence, it is incumbent on the city administrationto seek to protect human health. The authors of this minority report recognize that each wellmust be individually managed by a proper ordinance. However, there must be thought givento the density of wells in an urban area. There should be thought given to optimizing (rather than maximizing) the number of production facilities within the City boundaries. Operationalconstraints, such as incorporating multiple well heads at one site, directional (horizontal) drilling,and such should be considered whenever possible. We suggest that great care should be taken in updating Chapter 22 of the Denton Development
Denton Economic Development Partnership website, accessed April 8, 2012.http://www.dentonedp.com/business_location/demographics_data_population.asp
See Discussion paper by Vicki Oppenheim.