P&Z gives preliminary nod to drilling [Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas]By Janet Jacobs, Corsicana Daily Sun, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services
July 13--CORSICANA -- Join the discussion on this story by using the Facebook app to the right
After 11 months and many, many hours of negotiations and meetings, Pace Petroleum got a tentative variance approval and specific use permit Thursday from the Navarro County Lake Planning and Zoning Commission to drill an oil well just outside of Vista Ridge subdivision.
The deal still has to get the stamp of approval from the County Commissioners Court, which will meet on July 23.
The agreement was a deal worked out between Pace and the property owners, not an order from the planning and zoning commissioners.
"We definitely appreciate their willingness to keep working at it," said Terry Jacobson, chairman of the commission.
The agreement allows the drilling company to bypass the required 600-foot setback from either an inhabited residence or a platted subdivision, but gives the property owners on the west and east several accommodations. It will be 400 feet from Vista Ridge on the east, and 150 feet from the homeowners, Jack and Barbara Pierce, on the west.
According to Mike Quilling, an attorney who helped hammer out the deal for the homeowners, the concessions to the property owners include:
--If the well is productive, Pace will give the homeowners association at Vista Ridge a .25 overriding royalty in the well, enough to supplement road repairs or other projects;
--Pace will install two gravel passing zones on CR 3150 and 3110, regardless of the success of the well;
--Equipment will be on the west of the well-head;
--The homeowners will be given a 24-hour notice before the rig arrives, so they can minimize traffic congestion;
--Pace agreed to paint all the equipment, including the tanks forest green and will repaint every four years to help camouflage it;
--The company will fill in and level all pits;
--Within 30 days of the well's completion, the company will install an 8-foot fence on three sides of the site;
--The fourth side, south of the site, will have a cyclone fence with privacy slats;
--Outside the fence, the company will put a four-foot earthen berm and top that with cedar trees to provide another visual barrier;
--The well-head will be relocated from next to the road to behind a stand of trees;
--If the well comes in at more than 10 ppm sour gas or hydrogen sulfide, then the company will shut down the well;
--All the site lighting will be down-lighting, to minimize light pollution;
--If a pump must be installed it will be as unobtrusive and quiet as possible.
--If the well is not productive, they will plug it and make road repairs to the county's satisfaction;
Although the homeowners had requested that any gas be flared at ground-level, the Railroad Commission forbids ground flares in East Texas because of the danger of fires, so it will have to be a flare stack. However, Jim Harris, the attorney for Pace, said the company will be selling as much of the gas as it can capture, and the flare stack will be only for flash gas from the tanks, and will be as short as the state will tolerate.
The deal was worked out because both sides were facing a lawsuit if they stuck to their guns. The county could have been accused of preventing the Rashes from being able to enjoy the full mineral potential of their land, while the property owners could have argued they were being exposed to annoying developments near their homes without any recourse. In February, the planning and zoning commission refused to grant a variance to the company, and it was appealed to the commissioners court. The appeal will need to be withdrawn now.
"The agreement at least meets the spirit of the ordinance," Harris said.
If the commissioners give their blessing, the company will have a drilling rig out on the site as soon as possible, said Joe C. Stone with Pace Petroleum.
In other business, the commissioners approved replats for two properties, and gave some notice about a potential ordinance regarding trash and misbehavior near boat ramps. The ordinance could be brought back to the commissioners at the next meeting.
Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. Want to "sound off" to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com
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