Last night the at the Flower Mound Town Council Meeting, the vote passed for a CCF 3 to 2. Therefore, the zoning classification for Centralized Collection Facility will be added to our Agricultural Zoning as a Specific Use Permit (SUP).
Amendment to Article VIII, "Oil and Gas Pipeline Standards," of Chapter 34, "Environment," of the Town's Code of Ordinances.
Amendment to the Land Development Regulations (LDR 04-09), by amending Section 98-2 (Definitions), Sections 98-952 (Use Classifications), and 98-273 (Agricultural District Specific Uses), to provide for a Centralized Natural Gas Production Facility definition, use regulations, and special use conditions.
Council Member's Dixon, Levenick, and Wallace voted FOR the above amendments.
Council Member's Hayden and Filidoro voted AGAINST the amendments.
Council Member's Hayden and Filidoro, by their comments, listened to the residents and shared their concerns.
One item that continued to be brought up was on-site recycling and purification. Council Member Hayden talked about this process at length. Stating the benefits would be great for people on both sides of this issue.
Here are the benefits on site recycling and purification:
Recycle and reuse of at least 70% of produced water.
Less potable (fresh drinking) water being used and wasted
Greatly reduced truck traffic
No pipelines needed for transportation
Reduce chance of soil and ground contamination
Many residents expressed their concern about the broad exemptions that the industry receives from many federal environmental and human health statutes. Voicing the health concerns because of the exemptions. Melissa Northern had this to say:
"The Natural Gas Industry feels that they can only do business if they are exempt from the Safe Drinking Water, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other protective human health statutes that other Industrial Businesses are required to follow. In 2005 Congress allowed them to do business with these exemptions. This should be alarming to every resident in our community. An industry who is allowed to pollute the very basic needs for living – safe drinking water and clean air."
Several speakers challenged Mayor Smith and Council Member Jean Levenick to recuse themselves from participating in any further discussions or vote because they have signed gas leases with Williams Production (the gas company that is proposing the CCF). The Town Attorney, Terry Welch, explained that it wasn't technically a conflict because there is not an actual application from Williams submitted to the town. The issue of ethics came up because Williams is the only company that has requested this type of facility. One speaker showed a recent ad taken out in a local newspaper by Williams, praising the CCF.
Resident Steve Lyda had this to say about the issue.
" You have to stand up for the people who cannot speak for themselves. To serve ethically, you must hold yourself to a higher standard that will sometimes require you to walk out and not participate in a vote that will be perceived by many as a conflict of interest. Yes, legally you have a right to sit there and vote, ethically you do not.
An even more ethical stance would be to sacrifice yourself and never enter into an arrangement where you have to make this choice: to serve yourself, or serve the people who elected you."
One very unusual thing happened last night and we're not sure what to make of it. Mayor Smith actually stood up at the beginning of the meeting and provided an explanation to an allegation that she and Council Member Levenick had been involved in a sexual harassment incident. She did not provide a lot of details other than that the complaint mentioned that they touched a body part of another employee.
The Town had hired an external investigator to look into the case. Mayor Smith said the case was "quickly resolved". The town attorney Terry Welch, of Brown and Hofmeister gave Mayor Smith, Council Member Levenick and their attorney's an e-mail at conclusion of investigation. Here is what we believed we heard that the e-mail stated "that no remedial actions be taken but there should be a clear understanding by your client of work place issues."