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.
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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: