Nacogdoches officials consider residential oil rigs

By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – The request to drill a gas well in a residential zone has happened only a few times in Nacogdoches. Monday night, the planning and zoning committee is considering one of those infrequent requests. It's the only time city planners request special permits before drilling can begin.

City planners know when oil and gas drilling within a residential zone is requested, certain rules must be followed.

"The drilling permit ordinance does require it to be at least 300 feet from a residential structure," said Nacogdoches City Planner Larissa Philpot.

"Make sure they're not going to do anything to harm any of the city's groundwater supply," said Project Manager Brice Clements.

"One of the things we require is an emergency action evacuation plan," explained Nacogdoches Fire Chief Keith Kiplinger.  "A plan that complies with generally accepted principals throughout the industry."

The latest rig request on Southeast Stallings Drive is in a R-zone, but in an undeveloped area.  There's little around, except McMichael Middle School and it's two football fields away.

"I haven't seen interest in our already developed, dense neighborhoods, but that's not to say it can't happen in the future," said Philpot.

Preparation for the 'what if's is essential.

"We are prepared to deal with the emergencies and again, like any other business, there are things that can go wrong and our job is to be prepared when they do," said Kiplinger.

Drilling companies must have insurance, as well as sufficient roads and parking. Also in addition, noise, dust, lighting, and fumes must be kept in check.

"We would welcome the revenue, but we definitely wouldn't approve something that wouldn't be safe and good for everybody in the area," said Philpot.

If approved, the drilling is scheduled to begin this year.

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