Court upholds ruling on drilling at Rayzor Ranch

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A court ruling that allowed natural gas drilling at Denton's Rayzor Ranch development has been upheld on appeal.

The opinion, released Thursday, affirmed a 2009 ruling by Denton County state district Judge L. Dee Shipman that allowed Range Production Co. more time to start drilling after the Rayzor Ranch developer claimed the deadline had expired.

Range, a subsidiary of Range Resources, sued Allegiance Hillview LP after the developer refused to extend a summer 2009 deadline contained in a land-use agreement. Range officials argued that they missed the deadline for reasons beyond their control, including a city review process that took longer than expected.

The 2009 ruling removed the last hurdle to Range's drilling plans at Rayzor Ranch, a mixed-use project at Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 380. The City Council approved a permit in October 2009 allowing up to five wells at the development's southeast corner - near McKenna Park, homes and medical facilities - in a case that attracted considerable public attention.

The site now belongs to Legend Natural Gas, which bought Range's Barnett Shale properties this spring for $900 million.

Range drilled three wells at the site.

Under a council-imposed condition, drilling and fracturing of all five wells was supposed to occur within two years of the initial start of drilling in December 2009.

It was unclear whether Legend would try to drill the other two wells. Company officials could not be reached Friday.

The ruling Thursday came from a three-judge panel of the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth. Allegiance attorney Richard Illmer did not return messages seeking comment on how the company would proceed.

LOWELL BROWN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is lmbrown@dentonrc.com.


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