The first draft of new rules for natural gas drilling and production in Denton will be unveiled with the city’s gas well task force Monday evening.
The task force is scheduled for a briefing with attorneys in closed session and then move to a public meeting at 6 p.m.
After discussing whether the ordinance language reflects its recommendations, the task force is also expected to hear some public comment — although the first draft of the rules was not published with the agenda.
“There are still internal reviews going on,” said Darren Groth, head of the city’s gas well division.
Instead, the long-awaited draft ordinance will be published on the gas well division’s website Tuesday, along with a copy of Monday night’s presentation.
The Web page will include a “contact us” feature for the public to submit comments.
The city will keep the material and contact feature up for a public comment period from Tuesday through Oct. 12 to give residents the chance to provide their feedback, Groth said.
This year, the city launched its second phase of an ordinance review that began in 2009.
The City Council adopted higher permit and inspection fees in 2010 in order to establish the gas well division, which reviews permits and conducts inspections.
The council also adopted greater setbacks between gas wells and homes and other protected uses.
The second phase was supposed to focus heavily on health and environmental issues first raised by residents in 2009, when drilling began at the southern end of Rayzor Ranch, near a park, homes, a hospital and other health care facilities.
The gas well task force met from February to April, discussing and voting on proposed revisions, many of which came from a group of concerned residents — the Denton Stakeholders Drilling Advisory Group, or DAG. About 40 proposals advanced to the city’s planning and legal department to be transformed into the new rules, but not before the task force’s work came under fire for being too industry-friendly.
When the task force finished its deliberations, two members prepared a minority report cautioning that the primary reason for overhauling the ordinance — addressing resident concerns — had became a minority consideration. The report said the group was too small, did not represent residents, did not fully vet residents’ concerns and, unlike similar groups in other cities, did not hear expert presentations or make site visits.
In May, after discussing the minority report and the task force’s recommendations, members of the City Council expressed concern with investing too much in draft language without addressing concerns detailed in the minority report. Since then, the city has twice extended a moratorium on new permits for drilling and production and the council has met with attorneys in closed session about the matter.
DAG is holding a public meeting Oct. 9 to assist residents commenting, since the window of time to do so is rushed, resident Adam Briggle said.
Briggle plans to recap the revisions in a digestible form before sitting back and hearing what others have to say. Then DAG will “collect the ideas and present them in a more cohesive fashion,” Briggle said.
DAG also plans to provide formal feedback to the City Council at its Nov. 6 meeting on the ordinance, Briggle said.
The city’s revised timeline now projects adopting new rules and lifting the moratorium by December.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
IF YOU GO
During the 10-day period Denton seeks public comment on its new gas drilling and production ordinance, there are two public discussions planned.
Monday: The Gas Well Task Force will meet at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 215 E. McKinney St.
Tuesday, Oct. 9: The Denton Stakeholders Drilling Advisory Group will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. in Room 180 at the University of North Texas Business Leadership Building.