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City Of Dallas Debates Gas Drilling Site Distance

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - When it comes to good neighbors, gas drilling sites usually don’t make the list.

The city of Dallas is now debating just how close they should be allowed to homes, schools, and businesses.

Current city ordinance requires a 300 foot buffer zone.  A gas drilling task force recommended increasing that to 1,000.  The City Planning Commission now reviewing its recommendations has expressed interest in making the buffer even bigger… 1,500 feet.

An audio recording from a meeting in June shows the commission reached a consensus.

“I think we are all in agreement on 1500,” said Joe Alcantar, the Commission Chair.

A month later, in July, a draft of the proposed ordinance still didn’t show the change.

“Since we had a consensus on 1500 feet at our last meeting, why is that not reflected in today’s draft?” asked Commissioner Paul Ridley at the meeting.

An assistant city attorney responded staff still needed to provide the Commission with more information and that there had not yet been an agreement.

Commissioner Ridley said it’s not what he remembered.

“It’s a matter of our hands being tied.  We’ve been asked to create a very complicated, lengthy ordinance by September 26th…to accomplish that we cannot afford to backtrack, re-plow the same ground two to three times on which we’ve reached a consensus.”

Drilling opponents claim the omission proves city staff is intervening with its own agenda.

“The smaller the setback, the more areas they can drill,” said Zac Trahan, with Texas Campaign for the Environment.

The organization and half a dozen others penned a letter to city council, accusing city staff of “actively obstructing” the process.

The letter requests independent counsel be assigned to oversee the process.

A spokesperson for the mayor said he had yet to fully review the claims and could not yet comment.

A call to the city attorney’s office was not returned.

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