Tuesday, November 27, 2007

City Responds to Trinity Trees Lawsuit

The Startlegram reports that the city is asking a state district judge to throw out Melissa Kohout's lawsuit to prevent drilling at the Trinity Trees site. The basis for Kohout's lawsuit is that she was denied her right to address the government.

Sez the S-T (emphasis below is mine): "Kohout and her lawyer Jason Smith say in the lawsuit that the city violated its own ordinance by giving Chesapeake a special high-impact permit to drill near the trail.

"Such permits are required for gas wells within 600 feet of homes, parks or other 'protected uses' and can't be issued without a waiver from the property owner or the City Council. The ordinance doesn't include the trail system, though, because it is owned by the Tarrant Regional Water District.

"Chesapeake didn't apply for a high-impact permit and didn't post notices that it was seeking one. But city officials gave Chesapeake a permit after water district President Jim Oliver signed a waiver.

"Kohout's lawsuit points out that the city argued exactly the opposite in a 1995 zoning case, when it fought a topless bar that it felt would have been too close to the trail system. The lawsuit also says the city gave preferential treatment to Chesapeake and denied residents a chance to petition the council about the permit because the company's notices didn't mention it. Instead, they mentioned a less restrictive type of permit."

Although I am not a lawyer -- I'm just a simple caveman -- the whole sneaky way that the high-impact variance was granted seems to have some merit. We depend on the city's gas drilling ordinance to protect the environment and the safety of the people who live here. If the ordinance doesn't do that, what's to prevent a gas drilling company from putting up a well wherever they please? Is the public just going to be left out of this process altogether?

No comments: