The Denton City Council reversed itself late Tuesday night, granting a zoning change to a developer it had effectively denied in November.
In a previous tie vote, the council had denied the zoning change developer Bob Shelton requested that would have allowed greater density on a 75-acre tract along Ryan Road near W.S. Ryan Elementary School. Mayor Mark Burroughs was out of town during that meeting.
The council agreed to reconsider the matter after Shelton pledged to cooperate with the city on better disclosure to future home buyers.
Also at issue Tuesday night was whether Shelton would secure surface waivers for three pad sites that have not yet been drilled on or near the parcel. Two other pad sites in the neighborhood, known as Pitner No. 1 and Pitner No. 2, have already been drilled and were recently acquired by Eagle Ridge Energy.
The surface waivers could eliminate proposed pad sites closest to the school so that homes could be built there instead.
But, as the council headed to a late closed session on the matter, it remained unclear whether the current city ordinance would allow those three well sites at all.
Current city ordinance does not allow a driller to come closer than 1,200 feet to a protected use, but it does allow a developer to build homes close to wells.
The city’s allowance for such development came under fire from residents along Vintage Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Street after EagleRidge Energy returned to redevelop older wells and drill new ones close to their homes.
In asking for the council’s reconsideration of the zoning case, Shelton had pledged to cooperate with the city in proposed new restrictions that would require the developer and builder to notify prospective buyers of the proximity of the new homes to existing gas well sites.
A schematic presented by Brian Lockley, the city’s planning director, showed that the vast majority of the homes to be built in the Ryan Road neighborhood would be between 250 feet to 1,200 feet from one of the Pitner well sites.
In addition, Lockley said the staff recommended that they be given the authority to direct gas well traffic away from the neighborhood streets, something that Shelton told the council he couldn’t guarantee either.
Zac Thompson, a representative with Beazer Homes, told the City Council that his company would be the developer and builder of the site, once Shelton was able to work out the final platting of the home and gas well sites.
Thompson cautioned the council that his company would likely consider such disclosure requirements“rogue” and something that could possibly jeopardize clear title to the land. He wasn’t sure, either, that the city could require Beazer to alter its sales contracts, or whether the sales team would comply with the requirement, or whether prospective home buyers would even read the disclosures.
“I think its unenforceable,”Thompson said.
During the sparsely attended public hearing, just prior to the council’s closed session deliberations andl ate night vote, resident Steven Friedson told the City Council that he didn’t think the city’s quest for disclosure requirements was a worthwhile bargaining chip.
He told the council that a vote to allow even greater density near the wells sent a different signal tothe community altogether.
“If you vote this change,you’re putting 113 more families at risk,” Friedson said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.
IN OTHER ACTION
During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Denton City Council also:
• Amended the 2013-14 budget to include $1.75 million in capital improvements for Denton Enterprise Airport and fund them with certificates of obligation.
• Authorized a consulting agreement with Aguirre Roden Inc. for design services for the airport for $272,804and with Black & Veatch Corp. for engineering services for Denton Municipal Electric’s Arco Substation for $1.3 million.
• Authorized purchase of about 6.8 acres for an electrical easement from Terrano Realty Inc. for DME near the Spencer Electric Substation for $454,243.
• Awarded a contract to GFRC Shelters to build a communications shelter for DME for $119,637; to United Healthcare Insurance Co. for stop loss insurance for five years for $5.4million; to Open Systems International Inc. for a software license for DME for$504,659; and to Xylem Water Solutions USA Inc. for two pumps for the Cooper Creek Pump Station for $62,741.
• Prescribed four additional officers to the Denton Police Department for a total of 160 officers for2013-14.
• Prohibited parking on both sides of Fry Street between Oak and Scripture streets.
• Heard a proposal to hire Kimley Horn as a consultant to determine road impact fees for $276,500.