July 15, 2008

Chesapeake Accepts Guidelines on N. Richland Hills Pipelines

By Matt Frazier, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

Jul. 15--NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- Chesapeake Energy has agreed to find the most unobtrusive pipeline routes through North Richland Hills on both private and public property, prompting the City Council to unanimously agree to allow the city manager to sign a survey agreement with the company.

Council members created a set of guidelines to lessen the disruption of placing large pipelines through neighborhoods and city property last month after receiving a survey request by the energy company's subsidiary Midstream Gas Service.

But they tabled approval at Chesapeake's request so the company would have time to study the guidelines.

"What they have agreed to do is, for us allowing them to survey our properties, they will apply our standards throughout the city, including private property," said John Pitstick, the city's planning and development director.

The guidelines encourage companies to place pipelines away from residential neighborhoods and prime commercial tracts and to communicate openly with property owners and residents.

Other minimum standards include:

Making operations as limited as possible

Boring the pipeline through the ground from an entry point instead of digging a trench the length of the line

Using proper barricades and signs next to roadways

Laying pipelines at least 4 feet below the surface so they won't interfere with future development

Placing pipelines along property edges

Midstream Gas Services, which would perform the survey and construct the pipelines, is considered a utility and therefore has the legal right to take property. North Richland Hills is among several area communities confronting pipeline construction.

Council members said they encourage pipeline construction and that the city recently updated a plan that identifies utility easements and roadway corridors that could be used.

"I think we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact on our citizens," Mayor Pro Tem Scott Turnage said.

Mayor Oscar Trevino did not attend Monday night's City Council meeting.

During the audience participation portion of the meeting, former North Richland Hills Mayor Charles Scoma said he hoped that any agreement the city signs with Chesapeake will allow for a future change of state law.

He said that legislators may study allowing a for-profit company to be designated a utility.


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