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Southlake votes to update drilling rules

SOUTHLAKE -- The City Council paved way for new oil and gas drilling rules on Tuesday.

The council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Virginia Muzyka absent, late Tuesday night to tentatively approve two separate ordinances updating permitting rules and regulations for oil and natural gas drilling in the city. A second council vote -- and public hearings on the ordinances -- is scheduled for May 6.

Under the new rules, gas companies will be allowed to drill horizontally -- a process that allows a company to tap natural gas underground from a distance -- for oil and natural gas under all zoning classifications in the city, including residential. Horizontal drilling will not be allowed within a 1,000 feet of structures in the city. The council plans to define structures at a later date, Councilman John Terrell said.

After some debate, the council on Tuesday agreed to allow for variances to the 1,000-feet setback requirement at the council’s discretion.

“This is not a static document,” Terrell said.