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Flower Mound Prepares For Another Drilling Battle

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Flower Mound, TX – Flower Mound residents are preparing for another battle over natural gas drilling on Wednesday. It follows Monday's swearing in of a new council majority that favors more drilling restrictions. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports on the latest efforts to stop a well near the entrance of Flower Mound.

Nearly all of the 40 gas wells in Flower Mound are on the west side of the city, a more rural area with fewer residents.

Titan Operating wants to build a pad site that could accommodate numerous wells further east on more than 90 acres known as the Hilliard tract. To do that Titan is asking the city's oil and gas appeals board to grant permission for several exceptions or variances to Flower Mound's ordinance.

Vijda: This is the first real urban well

Tammy Vijda and other opponents say the Hilliard well would be too close to thousands of homes, two schools and the city's entrance.

Vijda: It's going to be the first thing people see when they come into our town. If you're looking for a home and you see a big drilling rig or tanks are you gonna want keep going?

Vijda is among more than one thousand who have signed a petition asking the oil and gas board to deny the company's permit though Vijda says the board has granted drilling companies many exceptions to the city ordinance in the past.

The new city council elected to enforce safer drilling doesn't have the power to overturn the board's decision on this case.

But following his swearing in Councilman Steve Lyda said the new council majority wants to make it tougher for companies to circumvent the ordinance.

Lyda says he will support expanding the city's temporary moratorium on operations in June. Right now the moratorium prohibits some new drilling facilities and pipelines. Lyda wants a six month halt to all drilling activities, including new wells.

Lyda: Definitely. We have to have that moratorium in place while the council reviews the ordinance in its entirety.

In the meantime, those opposing the Hilliard tract are hoping the oil and gas board will consider the public outcry that elected a new council.

In documents Titan Energy says it's only asking for the same drilling rights granted other companies. It promises to safeguard the environment and aid the development of Flower Mound by allowing over 2,500 acres of gas be developed from a two acre drilling site.