In the furious pace that sometimes follows a meeting and the requirement to file a story quickly, certain items invariably end up on the cutting room floor. I read the city’s StandstillAgreement before going into the meeting and hoped that other elements would be discussed in the open session, but they were not.
It didn’t seem out of the ordinary that an agreement such as this would stipulate that action by either party under the agreement couldn’t become evidence in future litigation — specifically paragraphs 6 and 7 and whether EagleRidge must comply with the city’s permitting process.
But it is interesting that the preceding paragraphs (4 and 5) appear to protect the operator’s right to a permit from the city fire marshal. The city recently specified the ordering of permits so that the fire marshal’s permit isn’t released to the operator before other city-required permits are secured. It would have been nice for the city to acknowledge publicly that the fire marshal’s permits seem to have a greater currency. Perhaps a fire permit is to a gas drilling operator what a certificate of occupancy is to a small business.
There was no discussion, either, of the Pitner well site, but Paragraph 9 contains more reservations for the operator of its interests along Ryan Road, even though Bob Shelton wants to build more houses there. Here’s the back story on that. The council did agree to reconsider that vote at a future meeting.
Drivers passing through downtown Denton were surprised when St. Nick’s scary sidekick was there, stopping passersby and tapping on car windows to pass out presents. It was kind of the opposite of how the monster is portrayed in German folklore, but, you know, only in Denton.
We hear the guy is coming back to town for the feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 5. Watch for him.
While most of the Veteran’s Day activities were focused on the Square this morning, I headed out to Ernie Dallas Park, in far southeastern Denton to watch as two new plaques were added to the Walk of Honor there.
Monty Slough was a dog handler in the Vietnam War and he made sure that some new plaques would honor both the fallen vets of that war and the fallen dogs of all wars.
A story in tomorrow’s newspaper will have a little bit more about Monty and Brandi, the German shepherd who was his constant companion in 1970-71, until he was injured in a firefight.
Slough learned later that the enemy had a bounty on handlers. Extra payment was given for the patch each handler wore on his uniform and for the branded ear of the dog, he said.
I was glad that I had read Susan Orleans’ fantastic book, Rin Tin Tin, earlier this year. Yes, the book is filled with Hollywood history, and dog breed history, but the best part, for me, was her in-depth look at war dogs and the pivotal role that Rin Tin Tin played in that history of U.S. warfare.
With EagleRidge in the headlines again, I took a minute to follow-up with the Texas Railroad Commission and the final report on the April 19 blow-out that the commission staff said would be released sometime in September.
Commission spokeswoman Ramona Nye said that when the final soil samples came back clean, the commission decided to take no additional action against EagleRidge. The report is below.
A local environmental firm, KJ Environmental, took the soil samples as crews cleaned up the area around the well head. At the time clean-up began, a commission inspector noted that the damaged area was to the southeast of the wellhead, and included damage to tree foliage and native grasses.
“Can see salt crystals on foliage,” the inspector wrote.
Similar problems with chlorides showed up in soil samples near the wellhead. Sampling for BTEX chemicals did not show levels of concern. But the salt-soaked soil still had to be hauled away and replaced.
After about a 90-minute closed session, the Denton City Council moved quickly Tuesday afternoon to clarify the city’s new gas drilling ordinance to specify the sequencing of its permitting requirements.
From now on, operators must start their permits with the gas well inspection division. The move came after the city had to step back from a lawsuit it filed against EagleRidge Energy about two weeks ago. When the city sought a temporary injunction, the judge denied it, in part because EagleRidge produced a permit it received from the fire department.
Fire Marshal Laura Behrens told the council that the fire department inspects a property before it issues a permit to make sure that it meets the requirements of the current fire code.
Council member Dalton Gregory told the rest of the council that it made sense to him that a project would have to be platted before a fire inspection could occur. Council member Kevin Roden said he didn’t consider the move a change to the city’s ordinance, since he believed it clarified what the council had intended all along.
City Attorney Anita Burgess also said the city did not consider the move to be substantial change to the ordinance, but a clarification of the sequencing required.
UPDATE: Here’s the substituted ordinance. The language was changed from the original draft in the council’s agenda packet. SubstitutedOrdinance
Those closely following the city’s legal battle with EagleRidge Energy will note that Tuesday’s City Council meeting shows the fire code will be amended. At issue seems to be the “operating” permits currently issued by the fire department to show compliance with the international fire code. It looks like the city will be moving that authority over to the gas well inspections division.
I got a copy of the fire department permit that was issued to EagleRidge prior to the beginning of operations on Bonnie Brae St. Here it is: Eagleridge Fire Dept Permit
Although no one has said this to me on the record, it’s a good guess that this may be what caused the city to retreat earlier this week.
I have a full story coming in this Sunday’s paper.
The City Council just approved a resolution authorizing the staff to spray in areas where human cases of West Nile virus are found. The move came this afternoon, after a second human case of the disease was reported in a neighborhood just east of Wiggly Field, near Teasley Lane and Hickory Creek Road. A city crew is expected to spray the area overnight in the next few days.
We received copies of court documents related to the city’s lawsuit against EagleRidge Operating. The city is claiming that the company is violating city rules with its drilling of new wells at Bonnie Brae Street and Vintage Road. We’re working on the story. Eagleridge Energy
The Denton County Health Department alerted the city of Denton today that a second person living within the city limits has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. The city raised its public health alert to Risk Level 5 and announced a special call meeting of the Denton City Council to consider whether to order ground spray in the affected area.
The council will meet Tuesday at 1 p.m.
The first human case was diagnosed earlier this summer, but no positive mosquito pools showed up in the city until this month.
More information can be found on the city website, www.cityofdenton.com