Monday, August 31, 2009

Judge dismisses the Red Oak/Riverwalk lawsuit. Says O & G Board Actions Legal!!

Well finally something good to report about gas drilling. Case dismissed! This is good news for all North Texas Towns. This was one of the suits filed by Red Oak and Riverwalk. When a town puts together an Oil and Gas ordinance, they should have every right to enforce it without the threat of being sued by big money oil and gas.

Remember the bills introduced last legislative session trying to take this right away from local government to rule where and how drilling is done in their towns? Oil and Gas spent "mucho money" lobbying for the bills to be passed. The lawyer for this development spoke in favor of the bills. Thankfully the bills died on the floor. It is known for a fact that many letters where sent from numerous North Texas Towns pleading not to let these bills go through. Maybe our elected officials are finally realizing that something is terribly wrong with the way Oil and Gas conduct business and production in the Barnett Shale.

Red Oak and the Riverwalk Developers knew all along what Flower Mound's O & G Ordinance stated. After all the ordinance was already in place when they signed a lease between the two of them. Knowing they would need many variances for this site.

It is in the middle of a densely populated area of Flower Mound. They want to put gas wells a few hundred feet from the hospital, future office buildings, a park, shops, condos and apartments.

There is a similar situation going on in Denton right now. I hope their town protects them like Flower Mound protected their residents.
Judge dismisses Red Oak lawsuit against town
By Chris Roark, Staff Writer
Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 11:21 AM CDT
Less than a month before the start of the trial involving Red Oak Gas and its subsidiaries against the town of Flower Mound and its Oil and Gas Board of Appeals over denial of gas drilling variances in June of 2008, the case has been dismissed by Judge Carmen Rivera-Worley of the 16th Judicial District Court of Denton County.

The court issued its order Friday finding that the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals' actions were legal. This followed the town and the board's motion with the trial court to dismiss the case. A court hearing took place Aug. 20.Red Oak has 30 days to file an appeal.

“The Town is pleased with the trial court’s opinion. It is our hope that this will conclude the litigation between Flower Mound and Red Oak,” said Town Manager Harlan Jefferson. “We were confident that the actions of the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals were legal and are gratified by the trial court’s decision.”

Red Oak Sabine, Red Oak Gas, Red Oak Gas Operating Company and Red Oak Gas II filed a suit against the town and the board June 18, 2008, after the Oil and Gas Board of Appeals denied 15 variance requests for drilling setbacks.According to a copy of the lawsuit, Red Oak Gas was claiming the denial was made “without reference to applicable criteria and standards, is illegal in whole or in part, constitutes an abuse of discretion, was arbitrary and capricious, causes Red Oak Gas an unnecessary hardship, is otherwise wrongful, invalid and unenforceable and should be reversed.”

Red Oak Gas was seeking variance requests for a pad site on a 134-acre tract of land located east of FM 2499, west of Morriss Road, north of FM 1171 and south of Timber Trails Park. The surface owner, Cole McDowell, is seeking to build The River Walk at Central Park on the land. The requested pad site was located on the northeast portion of the property. Because the pad site did not meet some of the distance requirements outlined in the town’s gas drilling ordinance, the applicant was required to request a variety of setback variances, including distance from a public building that includes a school, hospital or religious institution.

Of course only a few of the variance requests are listed below. It was crazy how many were requested for this site.

The request would have put a well 779 feet from First Baptist Church, located at 1901 Timber Creek Road, and a tank battery 885 feet from the church. The ordinance requires a setback of 1,000 feet for both, or down to 500 feet with a variance.

The requested variance also would have put a well 695 feet from Applewood Daycare, located at 2011 Timber Creek Road, and a tank battery 827 feet from the daycare. The variance would have allowed for a setback down to 500 feet.According to the lawsuit, Red Oak Gas had received a letter from the owner of the daycare, the landowner of the property the daycare is located on and the church’s pastor saying they did not object to the variances.

The lawsuit stated the only opposition came from public residents who did not live within 1,000 feet of the proposed site.

The opposition came from those who the Riverwalk will depend on for business. Those that will ultimately determine how successful this venture will be. They would need the residents to feel safe to use the hospital, visit the doctors in the office buildings, shop in the stores, play at the park, buy the condos and rent the apartments. With wells a few hundred feet away, many feel that is a danger.

The lawsuit also stated that during the meeting, “more than one board member expressed objections to any drilling on the Red Oak property generally, not just the June site, and at least one board member expressed the desire to have a ‘hole’ in central Flower Mound so that ‘there’s nothing there.’” It went on to state “some board members effectively based their decisions on the goal of banning drilling altogether within central Flower Mound, including the Red Oak property, thereby preventing Red Oak from extracting its minerals.”

The lawsuit stated that the board failed to apply applicable law. It noted that according to Texas Local Government Code Section 211.009(a)(3), a variance can be granted if it’s not contrary to public interest and if a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in unnecessary hardship. It also referenced a portion of the Flower Mound Code of Ordinances that states “all property owners, mineral and otherwise, have the right to enjoy their property and its benefits and revenues.”

Well the town is allowing this developer to build and develop all he wanted and asked for but the gas wells. This is the same developer that brought Flower Mound Parker Square and Frisco their Frisco Square which was dubbed "Fiasco Square".
Five Star began work on the first phase of the planned 4 million-square-foot complex in the spring of 2002. It built three buildings totaling 250,000 square feet -- two 57-unit multifamily buildings with ground-floor retail, and one 80,000-square-foot office facility, of which 20,000 square feet is retail space -- but then had trouble leasing the space. After that the project stalled, leading some local commercial real estate brokers to begin referring to it as "Fiasco Square."

He is getting another chance to build a huge development and do it right. He is still receiving his "right to enjoy the property and its benefits and revenues" from the hospital, shops, condos, and apartments!

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