To drill or not to drill: Citizens group pushes Southlake to lift gas drilling moratorium

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Bob Gray has created a peaceful oasis on this 4 acres in Southlake.

'We can look and see cows and horses," said Gray from his backyard.

But, Gray like many residents in Southlake, is frustrated that what he sees as a possible goldmine sitting underneath his property has gone untapped for years because of the stalemate over natural gas drilling.

"There has been a sense that this is taking too long."

Gray founded Southlake Citizens for Property Rights. He says property owners have the right to harvest the minerals underneath their land.

But, Southlake which is known for its luxury living, has moved slowly to put in place a process to move forward with lucrative gas drilling.

XTO Energy pulled out of a plan to drill more than a dozen wells on land near Highland and Highway 114, in the midst of a months-long moratorium.

Mayor John Terrell says he isn't surprised the issue is taking a while to resolve. He says it is complicated and must balance public safety with the rights of property owners.

"A few months isn't going to make a big difference, we want to do this right for our people."

Despite a strict ordinance that passes years ago, city officials continue to wrangle over setback distance. Some favor a buffer of 1500 feet, over 1000 between drill sites and homes or parks.

Another group, Southlake Taxpayers Against Neighborhood Drilling favors the bigger buffer and is encouraging city leaders to reconsider safety issues.

"Urban gas drilling isn't safe, so we need to not drill next to neighborhoods or find a safe way to do it," Dr. Gordon Aaland, with STAND, said.

The city council will take up the drilling issue during a workshop Tuesday and may vote on a revised ordinance later this year.

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