February 8, 2012
By Lowell Brown / Staff Writer
City won’t approve new requests while review continues
The Denton City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to impose a moratorium on new gas drilling and production permits, giving the city some breathing room to finish an ongoing ordinance overhaul.
The moratorium will last for 120 days, although the council could extend it if necessary. During that time, city staff members are supposed to complete their review of current drilling regulations and offer recommended changes.
A task force is meeting weekly to review new regulations, and staff members have said they hope to get a draft ordinance to the council in March.
The moratorium applies to new oil and gas well permits as well as applications for specific-use permits, site plans, development plans and plats that relate to mineral production. The moratorium does not apply to applications already on file with the city or to wells associated with previously approved permits or development plans, among other exceptions.
“A moratorium that froze everything in the pipeline would have just delayed some inevitable activity, because there are some approvals that are vested under our current regulations and the new rules wouldn’t have any effect on them,” Gregory said.
Gas industry representatives opposed the moratorium.
Gilbert Horton, representing Devon Energy, said Denton’s regulations were already “extensive and comprehensive.” A moratorium is unnecessary and could threaten Devon’s development plans, he said.
“We in Denton are opposed to drilling in our city,” he said. “These are our elected officials and they answer to us and not their checks.”