Drilling plans in Flower Mound pit neighbor against neighbor

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by STEVE STOLER / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on January 20, 2010 at 9:21 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 20 at 10:26 AM

FLOWER MOUND - A battle is brewing in Flower Mound over a Fort Worth company's plans to drill for natural gas in the middle of three neighborhoods.

Keystone Exploration wants to drill several wells on a 40-acre swath of land surrounded by Bella Lago, Emerald Bay and Point Noble.

While some who own mineral rights under their homes could make money off the drilling project, other families are concerned about the potential for air and ground water pollution and adverse effects on their health.

Homeowners who oppose the drilling say seven leukemia cases in nearby neighborhoods heightened their concerns. The Texas Department of Health Services is investigating those cases.

"Right now, we don't really know what the long term effects are going to be, and I'm not willing to bet my family's health and well being based on a drilling company saying, 'Hey, it's going to be alright,'" said Pam York, a Bella Lago homeowner who opposes the drilling.

Of the three neighborhoods, only Point Noble homeowners have mineral rights. Lewis Prince lives in Point Noble and said he supports the drilling, as does his homeowner association.

"I have strong feelings about drilling," he said. "I think we should be drilling in Alaska and offshore and anywhere we can so we can be energy independent."

Prince said the HOA owns mineral rights, too. He's hoping the drilling could offset the steep $1,500 a month HOA dues.

While Ximena Cole owns mineral rights in Point Noble as well, she said she is not interested in the money.

"I'll tell them 'no,'" she said. "Not just for myself, but for my neighbors and for my children and all the folks out here looking for a quiet life and a peaceful life."

Tom Blanton, the president of Keystone Exploration, said Flower Mound requires a 1,000-foot buffer between the wells and the homes.

"That's ample distance," he said. "But, some folks are just anti-drilling and you're not going to convince them we can be a good neighbor."

Prince said he isn't convinced drilling will lead to pollution or health problems.

"That slant drilling would go right under your property and you would never know," he said. "So, we might as well get the benefits."

Keystone Exploration executives believe the Texas Department of Health Services will conduct a fair investigation into the cancer concerns. The company president said if there proves to be an issue, the industry will have to resolve it. 

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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