Denton Homeowners Are Suing to Stop EagleRidge's "Loud and Constant" Fracking Operation

Categories: Environment

drillinghooe.jpg
Christopher St. John
It might seem like an obvious point: no, you can't just start a massive industrial operation right next to a middle-class residential neighborhood. Most homeowners aren't cool with that. But Dallas-based EagleRidge Energy has boldly gone ahead and extracted oil on sites next to a few Denton residential communities anyway, ignoring complaints from neighbors for months now.

Residents first took their concerns to their city officials, who in turn, briefly tried suing EagleRidge before backing down. Homeowners have also been working on a petition to get a total Denton-wide fracking ban on the ballot, though they have until August to collect the signatures. In the meantime, residents just started step three of taking on EagleRidge: suing.

Residents from 26 different properties in the Vintage and the Meadows at Hickory Creek neighborhoods filed a lawsuit this week against EagleRidge for drilling on pad sites less than 300 feet from their communities.

Denton had technically banned EagleRidge from drilling so close to homes last year, but the company got the drilling permits to these sites anyway on a loophole: the pad sites, though inactive, where there first, before the homes were built.

Of course, the fracking itself is very temporary. Homeowner and co-plaintiff Maile Bush says she got a notice in the mail on New Year's Eve that EagleRidge would be fracking the wells for a brief period in February.

But the problem is that the operations don't begin and end with a two-week frack job; homeowners say there's basically a full-scale industrial operation continuing to run next to their homes all day, with noise and noxious odors to go with. It was last fall when residents first took notice of the suspicious lights and vibrations at the sites, just a hint of what was yet to come. "Large vehicles are constantly arriving at and departing from the facilities. The noise originating from these facilities is loud and constant," the lawsuit says.

Unlike the proposed ballot measure to ban fracking in Denton, this lawsuit is more personal, just focusing on the decreased property value of the homes involved and not addressing any large-scale concerns about the health effects of urban drilling. Each plaintiff is asking for a sum of money between $200,000 and $1,000,000 to cover what they say is lost property values.

The complaint is below:

Cause No. 14-01430-393 File Marked Petition


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13 comments
Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Maybe they can ask Exxon Mobil's CEO Tillerson and Dick Armey for some pro bono legal support.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

I'm just amazed that fracking is inconveniencing people.


Who would have thought?


If only someone had warned them...

schermbeck
schermbeck

While the lawsuit may be "more personal," it has the capacity to actually change corporate policy in a way the ballot box does not via Eagle Ridge's insurance providers, who'll be liable. This is why so-called "tort reform" was so important to chemical companies and other polluters. Personal injury cases were a real check and balance on Texas' lackadaisical regulatory system, until they became almost impossible to pursue thanks to the obstacles instituted by the Lege at the behest of the corporate community. They were the one way to change bad behavior in the marketplace that our state officials otherwise ignored. Good luck to these folks. Their lawsuit is really on behalf of all of us. 

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@schermbeck  

It just irks the shit out of me that Abbott the hypocrite is probably going to be gov.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@schermbeck  

Interesting twist. Makes you wonder if this info was provided to current residents before the moved in. Were the developers aware of the existing pad sites? You'd have to think so - maybe their real beef should be with them.

Folks really need to do their homework prior to purchasing property.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Montemalone @schermbeck  

You might be able to soothe yourself with the fact that he will be far from the first hypocrite to occupy that office.

A cynic might even conclude that hypocrisy is a prerequisite for the job. 

fracquestions
fracquestions

@TheCredibleHulk @schermbeck  


The developer knew because it was the developer who leased the mineral rights. The developer never told buyers unless specifically asked, and I seriously doubt that anybody asked. When buying big ticket items it is amazing to me how few truly important questions are asked by purchasers. in this day and age you would think people would be aware enough of oil and gas production to ask those pertinent questions, but they usually don't, and then they are surprised when the reality hits them in the face.


If the developer disclosed the details about the mineral lease in the sales contracts, then he will be off the hook for any liability. The devil is in the details, which is why people should always read contracts carefully, and if they don't understand them, then get the advice of a competent attorney before signing anything.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@Lorlee @oakclifftownie  NIBY - only the wealthy politically connected folks can make it happen and only for themselves.  I'm lookin at you Dick Armey

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@fracquestions @TheCredibleHulk @schermbeck  

Unfortunately, the minutiae of real estate contracts is dense and mundane and nearly incomprehensible to those that don't deal with it on a day-to-day basis, and, in my experience, incomprehensible even to some of those people that do.

Most buyers have trouble understanding home warranties much less easements, offsets, ROW's, mineral rights and the like and at a time when they are leveraged to the hilt in order to just make a down-payment, coughing up a retainer fee for most people is unlikely to say the least. They are just going to trust (hope) that their agent is taking care of them with regard to those complex issues.

Their trust is often, if not usually, misplaced.

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