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Driller seeks permit for Arlington site near environmentally sensitive golf course

ARLINGTON -- A natural gas company has proposed what it says is an environmentally conscious drilling site in woods near the city's Audubon Signature golf course, the Tierra Verde Golf Club, in southwest Arlington.

The City Council will hold a public hearing tonight on Edge Barnett Llc.'s request for a specific-use permit to drill on 8 acres of undeveloped land at 4700 Eden Road near the Overcoming Faith Christian Center on U.S. 287. The site is reported to be the first oil and gas drilling property accepted in the Audubon International Signature Program, and the Fort Worth-based company is committed to meeting the nonprofit organization's long-term sustainable development criteria, said Mike Martinez, a partner at Edge Barnett.

"There is definitely that perception ... that oil and gas operators are out to look for a profit and do nothing that will benefit the environment," Martinez said. "Although we may be unique in our idea of approaching the Audubon Society, I think there are plenty of oil and gas operators out there that care about the environment. We want to be good stewards of the land. It's unfortunate that there is that perception."

Though the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the specific-use permit site Feb. 1, the council has never approved a gas drilling request for that largely undeveloped section of southwest Arlington.

The site lies within the 1,600-acre Tierra Verde Master Plan, which the city adopted in 2006 to protect development of a high-quality neighborhood around the award-winning public golf course, recognized for its wildlife and water conservation. The first natural gas well the council rejected was for XTO's proposed OK Corral pad site south of the 257-acre golf course in 2008.

"That master plan area does not contemplate industrial uses beyond what is already there," said Jim Parajon, the community development and planning director. "Industrial uses in that area would not be consistent with the vision for a high-quality, high-amenity residential area."

If drilling is approved, Edge Barnett would create its own natural-resource management plan under Audubon guidelines to address issues such as wildlife and habitat conservation, water-quality monitoring and waste management, Martinez said. The company has cataloged trees on the site and would conduct a wildlife study, he said. Vegetation removed would be relocated.

Drilling would also be limited to 3 acres, leaving a 5-acre wooded preserve, he said.

The pad site was designed with horizontal drilling advances in mind, which could allow 20 wells within the defined space, he said.

"We really want to minimize the amount of land we need," Martinez said. "We looked at this as a long-term project."

The wells could benefit 400 to 500 mineral lease holders, including the Overcoming Faith Christian Center, he said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

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