It’s gratifying to see the City take this stand on behalf of her citizens. It looks to me like the City has a very strong case. If we don’t win this suit, then I’d say we really are screwed.To show your support for the City, please show up for the court date:
9:30 a.m., Wednesday October 30th, Denton County Courthouse, 1450 E. McKinney St. in Denton.
Here is my attempt to summarize and simplify the main points in the form of a timeline:
2001 – the City passes an ordinance that states “a gas well operator had to first obtain approval of a gas well development plat identifying proposed gas wells and a gas well permit authorizing drilling operations for each well depicted on the approved gas well development plat.”
2002 – the original operator (R.L. Adkins Corp) received a permit from the City to drill a single gas well called Bonnie Brae Well 3H. According to the RRC, this well is on the north pad site.
2002 – the original operator received a permit from the City to drill a single gas well on the south pad site. The RRC calls this Bonnie Brae Well 4H, but it is referred to in the court document as Bonnie Brae B, Well #B-1.
2010 – EagleRidge takes over the wells.
September 2013 -- EagleRidge gets permit from RRC to re-drill the “existing well” – the court document seems to refer only to 3H, but I think this must also apply to 4H (just by looking at the RRC records).
September 2013- EagleRidge also gets permits from RRC to situate two new gas wells (New Wells), called Bonnie Brae 1H and 2H, on the north pad site (their location is not stated in the document, but this is where they are shown on the RRC map).
September 2013 – EagleRidge gets a permit from the City Fire Department, but it does not get the necessary site plan or gas well permit for the New Wells to authorize drilling. One New Well is drilled and plans seem to be in place to drill the other one.
October 2013 – The City files its cease and desist order.
At issue here is the question of whether EagleRidge needed to file for new permits for each individual gas well or whether the New Wells were vested under the existing permits (obtained in 2002). If the New Wells must be permitted, then they must follow the regulations in the current ordinance, which stipulate a 1,200 foot setback distance between wells and homes.
Here is a good summary of the City’s case: “Defendants' actions constitute violation of the City's Current Gas Well Regulations, Section 35.22.4, and Denton Development Code Section 35.11.2 pertaining to non-conforming uses. To the extent that the Original Gas Well Regulations are applicable to the New Wells, Defendants' actions are also in violation of those provisions. Defendants' actions are being performed in flagrant disregard of the City's right and duty to enforce its codes and ordinances designed to provide for orderly and safe development and to preserve the public health, safety and general welfare. Without the intervention of this court, Defendants are likely to continue such illegal operations it [sic] in the immediate future.”