Bridlewood Quality of Life Coalition


What gas co’s don’t want you to tell your doctor by kim0917

A Colorado gas-field worker arrived at a hospital covered in chemicals.  Just one problem:  The gas company prevented him from telling doctors just what those chemicals were.  When a nurse fell ill from chemical exposure while treating the man, doctors couldn’t diagnose or adequately treat her symptoms because the chemicals used for well fracturing are considered proprietary information.  The details of the “frac” did not even have to be disclosed to state health or environmental regulators.

We encourage you to read the full article here.  It’s curious that neither the company nor its chemical-covered employee are named in the story.

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Flower Mound will fight Red Oak by kim0917

The Flower Mound Town Council decided last Thursday night, July 17, to stand by the decision of the Oil & Gas Board of Appeals to deny variance requests to Red Oak Gas.   They will fight the lawsuit brought against the town by Red Oak.  Even the Dallas Morning News picked up the story.

Thanks to everyone who wrote letters and signed petitions.  Your extra efforts can make a big difference, as evidenced by Thursday’s decision.



Bridlewood resident’s letter to Mayor Smith by kim0917

Below is a letter written to Flower Mound mayor Jody Smith.  It was submitted to us by “Jill”, a resident living in the Lexington Downs subdivision of Bridlewood.  Mayor Smith’s response is below.

Dear Mayor and Council Members,
My husband and I have lived in this beautiful Town a little over a year.  We moved from the Memphis, TN area and had a hard time selling our house in the process.  We sent 5 months looking throughout the DFW area and really liked Wylie, Parker and Southlake.  But the more we looked and researched we decided Flower Mound was for us.  Having moved into our house in May 2007 we’ve felt like it was the right choice.

Mayor Smith – my husband even met you in line at the drivers license location with your father and was very impressed.  We have found a wonderful church and community – a place to call home for many years.

Now in July 2008 we are are very much considering a move to Southlake for one reason only – Urban Drilling.  I know this is a very highly charged issue but my husband and I have done research, attended meeting and spoke with people who already have drilling going on in their backyards and it is not good!  If today I was looking at Southlake and Flower Mound I would pick Southlake hands-down (higher taxes and all).

I am grateful we live in this Town with ozoning on the books.  But I am upset to see folks like Red Oak think they can “bully” their way in with threats on the Riverwalk and lawsuits.  I attended the last Oil and Gas Appeals borad meeting and I will NOT go to the Riverwalk (if it is ever built) because of their attitude.  Southlake has made it perfectly clear that NO variances will be granted and Flower Mound needs to do the same.  We need to fight Red Oaks and all future lawsuits before this ruins our Town – and it very much will.

I understand you have a tough job but this e-mail  is from my heart and my head.  We can not let this go forward.  I pray that you all will save the Town of Flower Mound.

Jill

Here is Mayor Smith’s response:

Dear Jill,

Thanks for the great e-mail, and after living in Flower Mound since 84, this whole gas drilling has really put a damper on neighborhoods.   Red Oak was denied twice, and I am sure that when the council meets this Thursday, we will deny their petition for the request to grant their variances.  I know it sounds like they are bullying us, but you know, business is business and sometimes it is like a card game, everyone takes their turn.  I am not trying to be light on this issue, but this is their first move, and it may take quite awhile until we know what their next one is.

On the issue of Southlake, last year several elected officials and staff members spent quite allot of time with us, and visiting existing sights in Flower Mound where wells have been drilled.   Southlake has virtually patterned their ordinance after ours.   The only difference may be is that Southlake doesn’t have as much land as Flower Mound does that could have drilling on it.   Just keep in mind, that as technology gets better, drilling can be done in more ways than we ever anticipated.   The advances in technology have allowed drilling companies to drill in different manners. I feel that like the Northshore area, that areas such as Mr. Hilliards property and Bridlewood may not be approved as well.   The Riverwalk property actually had less negative impact than Mr. Hilliards property would, because there are so many existing neighborhoods adjacent to Mr. Hilliards.

If you do look at Southlake, I am not sure where it is, but the Gateway Church purchased a large piece of property and I understand that one of their plans was to drill on their new sight, so you may want to check.

I am currently on vacation with my family and am not able to really make good phone calls, but when I get back, I would love to talk to you more, and share some ideas about Mr. Hilliard’s property and drilling in general.   I will tell you your council does not want to negatively impact any neighborhoods and we will do all in our power to get on top of this lawsuit. I am going to ask that we bring in an expert attorney who is very well versed in this area.

Thanks,

Jody



What YOU can do to fight Red Oak’s petition by kim0917

The town council will be holding an executive meeting later this month to weigh its options concerning the Red Oak petition.  They will start with an open session, so the public can be present.  The meeting starts at 6:00 pm, tentatively set for July 17 at the town hall.  We will keep you up-to-date on further developments and confirm the date as soon as we know for sure.  After the public session, the town council will close the doors for discussion.

If you can’t attend, please email, fax, or write the town council and tell them you support the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals’ decision to deny Red Oak their requested variances.  Tell them it’s because you came to Flower Mound for the quality of life and you don’t want it threatened by natural gas companies like Red Oak.

All emails and letters MUST include the sender’s name, phone number and home address to verify their Flower Mound residence.  Those without will likely be ignored.

Support your oil and gas appeals board by:

  • sending emails to Paula Paschal:  paula.paschal@flower-mound.com
  • sending a fax to:  972 874 6453
  • writing a letter to: 2121 Cross Timbers Road Flower Mound, Texas75028


More on Red Oak by kim0917

Star Community Newspapers also reports on Red Oak’s petition and includes a pretty funny quote.  Red Oak claims the variances were denied:

“without reference to applicable criteria and standards, is illegal in whole or in part, constitutes an abuse of discretion, was arbitrary and capricious, causes Red Oak Gas an unnecessary hardship, is otherwise wrongful, invalid and unenforceable and should be reversed.”

So the Flower Mound Oil and Gas Board of Appeals abused its discretion in siding with the people it serves, who turned out in large numbers to voice their displeasure with Red Oak’s plans?

I will say, it does cause Red Oak a hardship — they have to make another appeal and might have to find another drill site.  But the burden of proof is on them in the first place and they couldn’t find a location that fit within the boundaries set by the law.

Red Oak complained at the appeals hearing that the only people opposed were “anti-drilling” in general, a sentiment repeated in the lawsuit by mentioning that all opposed parties didn’t live within 1,000 feet of the drill site.  However, granting certain variances sets a precedent that could threaten our quality of life.



Guest Editorial by kim0917

Below is a guest editorial written by Bridlewood resident Debbie Huffstutler.  It originally appeared in the Lantana community’s newsletter.

Most of us were taught at a very young age, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Perhaps the Oil and Gas Companies are exempt from this rule. When every other company and citizen has to follow the standards set by the EPA for Clean Air and Water, the O&G industry is exempt. Why? As the push for neighborhood drilling ensues, my question is: How safe is drilling, really? Especially when they are exempt from keeping our air and water clean.

In the Bridlewood neighborhood of Flower Mound, we have a large number of residents looking for truthful answers about the proposed drilling in our neighborhood and town. We are not opposed to gas drilling, just the drilling being done in highly populated, family-oriented areas, such as Bridlewood. We have realistic questions and concerns that we would like answered. We believe there are still a lot of missing and unknown facts on both sides of this issue, especially in regard to the long-term impact.

The proposed drilling affects everyone in our neighborhood, not just those that surround it. It’s about the community as a whole. It appears that gas drilling is being portrayed as no big deal with lots of money for landowners.

We have been told there will be a little noise for a period of time and then it will be a quiet and contained operation. This is a 75 to 120 foot tall metal structure that will be loudly drilling thousands of feet down and across into hard, solid rock and shale day and night to get to a highly flammable substance. Once drilled, the gas production could last for several years to several decades. This seems like a big deal to us.

Here are a few points that we learned while doing research on this topic: The proposed gas drilling site for Bridlewood would be located north of the driving range, just south of the 5th hole tee box or possibly near the 10th hole. On the large drilling site pad, 14 wells would be drilled with each drill extending out underneath homes and schools for about a mile. The drilling, or fracturing, of each well takes approximately 30 days and are done one at a time. Each fracturing uses approximately four million gallons of fresh water. That would mean 56 million gallons of water just for drilling in Bridlewood. We have been told that 14 wells means there will be constant 24/7 drilling for up to 2 years. The continuous gas production will go on for several years or more. This is not a small, quick project.

How will we as a community be affected? Bridlewood will no longer be a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, which was why we all purchased our homes here. Bridlewood Boulevard and other area roads will need to be replaced once or twice during the drilling process. Bridlewood will lose its prestigious appeal and be known as the neighborhood with the gas drilling. Our neighborhood will become less desirable for both existing homeowners and potential new homebuyers due to its industrial activities and associated risks. There will also be considerable amounts of additional traffic on our already crowded roads, from the water, sand and equipment trucks.

Some people are upset with the red signs that shout “Just Say No to Urban Gas Drilling.” They say it scares people away from the neighborhood. A sign scares them? How will a drilling rig pose less of a threat?

We have heard the argument that if ordinances and variances had not been changed in the past, our neighborhood and most of Flower Mound wouldn’t have been developed. As if we were the ones responsible for the changes and how dare us question anything else. However, if those things weren’t changed and these neighborhoods weren’t built, we all would have found homes in other areas and perhaps would not be facing a fight to preserve our quality of life.

This town and many developers made money off of the fact that we bought our homes here and we shop here, but now we should just sit on the sidelines and not dare fight for our right to quiet enjoyment of our homes?

Here are some important health and environmental hazards to consider: There are potential airborne toxins that can be distributed throughout the community via the wind. It is not just those around the site. We have to consider the construction of the pad site, radioactive materials, raw gas (which has no smell), exhaust from trucks and diesel motors and many other materials or contaminants that aren’t seen, which are part of natural gas extraction. Then we also have a potential for ground and water supply contamination.

While gas drilling company officials say they use precautions and high-tech systems, practices and equipment to better the production, these health and environmental risks are viable scenarios. Did you know the Oil and Gas companies don’t have to disclose the chemicals they use because it is considered proprietary information?

Then we have our financial considerations: What are the tax implications? What are the homeowner’s insurance implications? What about our mortgages or if we apply for a home equity loan? What about people trying to get mortgages on a home someone needs to sell. If it is a money making property, aren’t these things affected?

When does safety trump profit? When we ask those in favor of drilling where they get their information about safety to our health and environment, they reference material given by the Oil and Gas companies. So if the gas company says it’s safe look no further? Are we really that credulous? People should be checking and rechecking their facts, their research, and information. Especially when other people’s safety, health and environment depend on its accuracy.

The impact of neighborhood drilling may not be fully understood for five to 20 years down the line. What if what they are saying is based on faulty information or lack of information? Do we really want to risk it without the answers? Is it fair for others to force us into risks we did not want to take? Whatever happened to the Golden Rule? Mineral owners should be able to tap into their minerals. No one is saying they shouldn’t. What we are saying is that there are those of us who also own mineral rights, but we’d rather not tap into them and jeopardize our neighbor’s safety, health and environment, as we would not want them to jeopardize ours.

Do the Gas Rigs, and all of the equipment involved in the drilling process, really need to be in the middle of neighborhoods in order to get to the minerals? The Barnett Shale is not going anywhere. There is really no rush because as time marches on, the gas will only be a more valuable resource in the future when it can be safely extracted. We would like to hear legitimate answers to our concerns. If the answer remains “there is no evidence at this time,” “no conclusive proof either way,” well, that’s not an answer, so let’s wait until there is one.



Resident Comments of June 4 Bridlewood HOA meeting by kim0917

Written by Susan Gleghorn

At the HOA Oil & Gas meeting on June 4, 2008, from 6:30p.m. to 8:00p.m, the HOA attorney from Riddle and Williams, P.C., Christopher Payne, spoke to us about a court decision out of Erath County.  This particular decision was a harsh and 100% negative ruling against a subdivision very similar to our situation in Bridlewood.  As presented, it appeared that the residents had no real options left to them and it was depresssing to hear Mr. Payne talk about it.  My initial thought was if this is an example of current case law, then we have lost out fight before we even begin.

However, after the meeting, I asked Mr. Payne for further clarification on the status of that decision.  He stated that the decision he cited, although very harsh, was a finding out of the District Court.  This decision was being appealed but had not gone through the appeals process yet.  It had not reached the appeals court or the Texas Supreme Court.  He further stated that he hoped and FULLY EXPECTED the decision to be overturned somewhere along the way.

Now, there are never any guarantees in life and Mr. Payne’s comment may be some degree of wishful thinking; this decision may stand in the end.  But my message to you is THIS IS NOT THE END.  There are things that we CAN do to try to prevent drilling within the confines of Bridlewood.  My belief is that regular attendance at the Flower Mound Oil and Gas Board meetings, held once a month, and especially if attended by a large number of us, is our first and best option.  We must be ready to present our opposition to urban drilling with clear and concise reasons.  Also, regular communication with our Town Council members may be helpful.