Chaos as Plan Commission Votes to Give Trinity River Floodplain Fracking Another Look

Categories: City Hall

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Any attempt to explain the goat-fuck at that Dallas Plan Commission meeting Thursday afternoon, I fear, may not do it justice, but here goes: A few weeks ago commissioners concluded that approving a special-use permit to allow driller Trinity East to hydraulically fracture the Trinity River floodplain wasn't such a hot idea (plus, it's not technically allowed by law). Perhaps, the commissioners thought, the City Council should first decide whether or how Dallas should proceed with urban drilling.

Unfortunately, the commission did deliver Trinity East's request a killing blow to the head that way, and like a zombie it rose to reclaim its place on the agenda today.

Over the holidays, somebody musta gotten a talkin' to. See, Dallas took millions of Trinity East's money back in 2007, which came with some sort of understanding that, somewhere on down the road, city code would be amended to allow drilling on a floodplain that is also technically parkland. We don't know what the deal looks like, but we do know City Hall is afraid of getting served with a fat lawsuit. We also know that a denial at plan commission makes it tough to get the permit through the City Council. So, here we were Thursday, in stuffed council chambers that smelled of warm humans. Two of the prominent votes against the SUP were missing. One, commissioner Paul Ridley, had to be out of town for some reason. The other, Mike Anglin, was home sick.

The vote-math had clearly just changed, to Trinity East's benefit. As the meeting got under way, assistant city attorney John Waters took to the podium to explain that, absolutely, everything going on here today is on the up-and-up, legally speaking. No funny business here. And certainly no requirement to hear from the citizenry a second time. City Council members Scott Griggs, Angela Hunt and Sandy Greyson, we noted Wednesday, disagreed. In fact, they sent plan commission chair Joe Alcantar a strongly worded letter, imploring him not to push the motion to reconsider or, at the very least, to wait until the public could be notified and all commissioners could attend. The vote against the drilling permits was a resounding 11 to 1 in December, they noted.

"I think we're being asked to reconsider our votes because a denial requires more votes to pass the City Council and there are worries of litigation," plan commissioner Sally Wolfish said Thursday. "These are issues that properly lie in the City Council, not the [city plan commission]. Our job is to look at land use and not legal and political ramifications."

Gloria Tarpley echoed her sentiments, and it became clear that the commissioners would not vote on granting the permit Thursday. Instead, they agreed unanimously to reconsider Trinity East's application at the commission's February 7 meeting. And with that, match struck tinder. Jim Schermbeck of Downwinders at Risk, a reliable rabble-rouser, yelled, "Who's in favor? Who's opposed?" And nearly the entire chamber stood, shouting, "Shame!" and clutching aloft hand-drawn signs bearing the very same message, or, alternately, "SHAM." Perhaps they ran out of room and figured the word was apt?

Almost as one, the commissioners stood and indignantly shuffled out of the chambers, not to reconvene for 20 minutes or so. Dallas police cleared the room of sign wielders, and Schermbeck wound up in the parking lot. The room was all but emptied. The commissioners gradually filed back in to carry on the more mundane business of the day.

Said an older fellow, chortling and shaking his head in disbelief, "I just want them to approve my three-car garage."

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Dallas residents should see this letter........

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: kim feil 
Sent: Fri, January 11, 2013 3:47:56 PM
Subject: FBI should be concerned with Texas’ ERCOT dirty little “cleaner burning” secret

FBI --- rolling blackouts are of a high security matter.... be advised that leaking methane losses from fossil fuels derails our efforts to control global warming. How can the FBI help investigate unfair tactics like the platform that the oil and gas association had with our congressman in this video to one-sided-ly give their green washing so they'd buy into oil and gas industry spin?
Where is our chance to sit our congressman down so that wind and solar companies can present their sales pitch?
Who will speak to these confressman as a group for our children’s future in having a livable planet? Here is that UNFAIR video.
My burning question for the FBI is this....the science is overwhelmingly settled on global warming being mostly man-made....what is the FBI going to do about protecting our national security in getting us off of fossil fuels to avert catastrophic weather and the human suffering and riots that follow?
I’m not going away and need someone from the FBI to respond, thank you.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: kim feil
Sent: Fri, January 11, 2013 3:29:09 PM
Subject: Texas’ ERCOT dirty little “cleaner burning” secret

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: kim feil 
Sent: Fri, January 11, 2013 9:51:18 AM
Subject: Fw: Texas’ ERCOT dirty little “cleaner burning” secret

 Read on my BarnettShaleHell link to find out how unreliable nagural gas is when we need it most during storms and freezes....

sure the sun doesn’t always shine, 

and the wind doesn’t always blow, 

but when it comes to natural gas-

Mother Nature has a say if the pipelines flow. 


earthquakes? you better believe it check out the Balcones Fault Line runs right through that area

Montemalone topcommenter

So when the resulting earthquakes completely destabilize the levees and we get that whitewater rafting ride on Main St, who's responsible?


When City Hall has to call out a police presence to protect itself from its own residents at Commission Plan Meetings, perhaps that's a sign that you aren't making the best policy choices.

observist topcommenter

Come see World Class Trinity River Park!

- Tollway!

- Death Rapids!

- Natural Gas Drilling & Processing!

everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Montemalone The "resulting earthquakes" are as much science as phrenology.  We've been fracking without "resulting earthquakes" for 40 years.  The only difference is that now both are getting media attention.

@schermbeck Ya think? I guess Dallas City Hall is just not used to this new 'democracy' thing that people keep talking about.



Begin thinking of the Trinity Park as an outdoor museum of science, specializing in hydrology, industrial geology and transportation engineering.  

Sounds like fun for the whole family.

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