Woodland Estates residents complain about gas drilling site

Posted Monday, Oct. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Mansfield City Council heard complaints Monday night from three Woodland Estates neighborhood residents about the nuisances of living next to a natural gas drilling operation, particularly about noise they contended occurs frequently and well beyond the city curfew.

The residents of the neighborhood near North Main Street and Debbie Lane also complained of odors and the proximity of the two drilling sites to homes, parks and schools.

The two drilling pad sites have 15 wells but have permits to increase that number to 39 wells at any time in the future.

“Every time an operator decides to drill, we’re faced with months of near-constant noise and stifling air pollution from large diesel engines,” said resident Lance Irwin. “It’s not only a health hazard; it also seriously affects the resale value of our homes.”

Because of open-meetings requirements, the council cannot respond directly to issues not included in a meeting’s agenda. But two members asked the city staff to research the timeline of the wells’ operations for the next meeting.

Outside the meeting, city staff members said concerns spiked about three months ago when an independent operator, Eagle Ridge Energy, bought the two pad sites and began drilling after several years of little activity. During those years, the 160-home subdivision had become virtually built out.

However, the staff members insisted that drilling and shale-fracturing operations have stayed within the city’s curfew of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The city’s gas well inspector, Dave Nicholson, said a few noise complaints had been received within minutes before or after a curfew period.

He said the two drill sites meet all city requirements, including the city’s 600-foot minimum distance from residential property. He pointed out that air quality complaints must be referred to the state.

Also at the meeting, the council imposed a 180-day moratorium on new permits for businesses specializing in the sale of electronic cigarettes while the staff develops regulations to recommend to the council.

E-cigarettes, a popular smoking-cessation product, vaporize nicotine so that it can be inhaled to simulate smoking. But the nicotine and wide variety of flavors have also make e-cigarettes increasing popular among minors.

Several e-cigarette users who said they and relatives had quick and lasting results from using the product, spoke against the moratorium, saying they feared overly strict regulations might affect legitimate users.

Ken Boustead of Fort Worth, who said he plans to open his own “vapor shop” this week in Sansom Park, insisted the smoke is safe.

“It might quack like a duck and walk like a duck, but it’s not a duck,” he said.

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641

Twitter: @Kaddmann

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