Flower Mound mayor 'surprised' at gas permit moratorium vote

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WFAA and The Dallas Morning News

Posted on May 4, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 4 at 3:09 PM

Flower Mound voters will decide whether to slow a gas-drilling boom by imposing a moratorium on permits for centralized collection facilities and gas pipelines, under an action taken Monday night by the Town Council.

In a split vote, the council called for a Nov. 2 election on a proposed ordinance that would place a six-month moratorium on permits for centralized collection facilities and gas pipelines. The purpose of the ordinance would be to slow a gas-drilling boom in Flower Mound.

Flower Mound's mayor, Jody Smith, told WFAA in an interview on Tuesday, that she was surprised by last night's vote.

"I didn't go into the meeting thoroughly understanding the level of constituents' responses to the issue. So we really did a very good public hearing. We got some great responses back. I believe that's what our council members made their ultimate decision on, was what they heard from the residents," she said.

She said she did not have a preference on whether it's to drill or not to drill.

"My role is to make sure that we address the concerns of our constituents and let them have the opportunity to come to the polls this November and voice their opinion by voting on the referendum," she added.

"I think after fully analyzing the issue and hearing the full story, we'll get a very good view from our constituents in November. I think we'll have a very strong turnout," she continued.

The council had the option of approving the ordinance last night, but a majority rejected that approach, opting instead for an election.

"It's what I expected. I had hoped they might have accepted it as is," said Virginia Simonson, one of the organizers of the Flower Mound Cares Petition Association, which launched a grassroots campaign for a moratorium.

The group gathered almost 6,000 signatures from residents, more than needed to submit the proposal to the council for adoption or an election setting.

Simonson said she's concerned that a request to build a centralized collection facility for gas-drilling waste water will be submitted before the November election. "It would be grandfathered in," she said, after a lengthy Town Council meeting in which dozens of people voiced their opinions on the issue.

Flower Mound resident Don Shields was one of many who spoke against the moratorium. Although he hasn't leased his mineral rights for drilling, he said he believes in the rights of property owners.

"I'm opposed to the ordinance, and I'm opposed to people voting on it," he said. "They have no business telling leaseholders what they can do on their property."

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