During the council’s work session last week, several members referred to a Vested Rights Position and White Paper.
I wrote the story as best I could, not knowing the details of what was in the paper. The paper was not included in the agenda back-up online. I finally received a copy late Friday.
But it has been well known that many of the troubles the city has had enforcing its new oil and gas development ordinance can be traced to the Harper Park Two decision.
The position paper argues against stretching the Texas Supreme Courts’ interpretation of a development project’s vested rights from Harper Park Two to an oil and gas development project, asserting that it likely does not reflect the intent of the Texas Legislature.
What is the project? Is it only that pad site identified on the original plat? Is it one well, or two wells, or five wells? Is the project the complete exhaustion of the mineral stores of the mineral lease, no matter the necessity of burdening the surface estate with additional wells and gas infrastructure? In an urban environment with underlying gas plays, the answer to these questions determines the health and safety and the quality of life of a municipality’s citizens.