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Chesapeake withdraws waiver request for Como-area drilling site

FORT WORTH -- Chesapeake Energy withdrew its application Tuesday for a waiver to put a gas-drilling site near the Como and Ridglea neighborhoods in west Fort Worth.

The company had asked the City Council for permission to drill at least four and as many as 25 wells on a site off Bryant Irvin Road that was within 600 feet of 24 homes in Ridglea and Como. The closest homes were within 300 feet.

Chesapeake Vice President Julie Wilson sent an e-mail to City Council members Tuesday afternoon saying that the company "respectfully withdraws" the application.

Under city ordinance, Chesapeake needed permission from all the landowners within 600 feet of the site or a waiver from the council. Company officials said the site was ideally positioned to produce natural gas from nearly 3,000 acres under surrounding neighborhoods.

"While we have the support and encouragement of hundreds of mineral owners who could have their minerals produced from this site, it is clear to us the majority of Council does not support our request for a waiver," Wilson wrote. "In absence of that support we feel the most responsible action is to withdraw."

Residents who opposed the permit said the traffic, noise and potential air pollution would have caused harm to their homes.

People in Como, a historically black neighborhood, complained that Chesapeake used high-pressure tactics to obtain support for waivers. The company offered as much as $7,500 for waiver permission, and opponents said it recruited two ministers to speak in favor of the well site.

Dozens of Como residents attended the council meeting Tuesday evening, even after word spread that the proposal had been withdrawn.

"Some people say that all Como can say is no to everything," George Barnes said. "We're not saying no to everything, just some things."

Como residents worked alongside residents from Ridglea, a predominantly white neighborhood west of Bryant Irvin. The neighborhoods were once separated by a brick wall.

"I want to commend Como and the folks over in Ridglea," said Councilman W.B. "Zim" Zimmerman, who represents part of the area.

"We took the wall down, and with this activity, we built a bridge across Bryant Irvin Road."

Mike Lee, 817-390-7539

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