DENTON —In a split decision on Tuesday night, the Denton City Council voted to continue negotiations with a Texas energy company in hopes of resolving a dispute over drill sites near heavily residential areas.
More than 100 concerned residents filled the Council chambers. Many asked the city to take a stronger stance against two well sites in particular that are only 200 feet away from some homes.
Debbie Ingram's Denton home is one of the proprieties near the area.
"I moved here because of the beautiful open spaces," she said.
Ingram never imagined a something beyond the fence would keep her from the spot she loves.
"We started hearing the clanging... then we started smelling the smells... and it's just been getting worse since last August,” she said.
Just beyond her property, about 400 feet away, Eagle Ridge Energy is drilling for gas... and driving neighbors crazy.
"You hear all kinds of screeching and pounding in the middle of the night," Ingram said. "I was just like, 'Oh gosh, here we go! No, not again!'”
Denise Diaz moved to the Meadows at Hickory Creek for peace and quiet that she is not getting.
"I don't think they should be by a neighborhood at all," she said.
The City of Denton agrees — sort of.
An ordinance keeps drilling sites 1,200 feet from houses and schools, but not for Eagle Ridge. Last November, the company and the city started intense negotiations. There is a dispute as to whether the sites should be "grandfathered in" and allowed to operate because of older leasing arrangements.
In the Meadows at Hickory Creek, that means one well on each side of the neighborhood.
"We're very disappointed that they let it happen in the first place, and that the original ordinance didn't have enough punch to make it so that they couldn’t do this," Ingram said.
What Denton is doing is renegotiating with Eagle Ridge, so it's possible that their rules about fracking could change.
But until then, Denton keeps extending its agreement, testing the patience of its citizens.