Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs: A Big Idea for Informing Prospective Homebuyers
We know that
vested rights means that the future of fracking in Denton is likely to include
drilling close to homes – despite our best efforts to prevent this situation.
The best that we may be able to accomplish now is to make sure that people are
fully informed about the presence of nearby gas wells when they buy a home (and
perhaps even when they rent an apartment). How do we ensure people really are
giving their informed consent to live close to gas wells?
On this question,
I recently received an e-mail with what I think is a brilliant idea. The source
of this idea said it may be best if he/she remains anonymous. So what follows
is a lightly edited version of the e-mail she/he sent me. I would very much
like to hear opinions about this. And I would also hope that City Council will
consider this idea.
There is, of course, no way realistically for the City to police
notifications for homebuyers. So, regardless of any terms of such an agreement,
it’s highly unlikely that each and every prospective buyer - both initial and
subsequent buyers - will be properly informed.
However, there may be one way to ensure that any prospective buyer who visits
the site prior to purchase is properly advised: Simply revise the gas well
and/or sign ordinance to require that a large sign, minimum x by x with letters
x feet high, which so states information about gas well proximity be placed at
each entrance to any new development with a gas well onsite or within X feet.
The signs will have to be clearly visible - not behind a bush, shrub, tree, or
fence - and will have to be maintained in good repair by the developer and,
later, the HOA. It will have to be erected prior to any disturbance of ground
for construction and will have to remain fully visible at all times through the
life of the development. The long-term requirement is necessary, because one
never knows when a well will be re-drilled or converted from a vertical to a
well with lateral lines or what kinds of redriling future technology will make
Required signage will be a low-cost item for the developer (and later HOA),
will inform all viewers equally, will be easy for the City to police, will not
tread on any mineral rights holders, and will likely not be fodder for court
Of course, the signs may render some land effectively undevelop-able, at least
for residential...but that's the trade-off: short-term revenues from gas wells
or long-term revenues from (quality?) development.