Gardendale "No" Voters Speak Out

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

GARDENDALE - In the past, NewsWest 9 has covered those in favor of the Gardendale vote. Now, we bring you what people against the vote are saying.

When NewsWest 9 arrived in Gardendale, we were greeted by large signs saying "Vote No".

Early voting began May 2nd to turn Gardendale into six townships to try to stop Berry Petroleum Company from drilling on their land.

Each township would have a Mayor and two Commissioners.

Residents voting no told NewsWest 9, they don't want to pay higher taxes under a township and don't believe Berry can be fought.

"I got it Friday, probably about mid-day," Gardendale resident, Pam Patterson, said. "I'm just against it. I knew when I purchased this property 16 years ago that I didn't own the mineral rights. I knew it was a chance we were taking, a big chance in West Texas, but you hope for the best and you ride with what you got."

Signs were also displayed at businesses like the Gardendale Grocery.

Berry Petroleum claimed in a letter to residents that they plan to drill 140 wells in Gardendale.

They said the mineral rights in Gardendale were severed from the land rights 50 years ago, which would make the oil under the residents Berry's property after the company leased the rights back in 2010.

Residents told NewsWest 9 they regret how this issue has turned them against each other.

"The saddest part is this has divided such a wonderful community," Patterson said. "I mean, we were so close-knit. There's such a division you feel, even whenever you ride around."

"You got a sign in your car that says 'Vote Yes' or 'Vote No', it's like it's the Hatfields and McCoys out here right now, which is ridiculous," Gardendale resident, Marvin Jennings, said.

Jennings also voted no.

He has an oil well drilled by Berry right next-door to his home and he said there's been no intrusion at all.

"We're sitting here looking at it right now," Jennings said. "We don't hear it. Whenever they drilled it, we didn't hear it. They own the rights. They bought them. They actually own them."

Jennings, who would be living in Township Six if the vote passes, also claims that Gardendale Landowners Association President Will Evans told him that there would be a $1,000 township fee per person.

Jennings owns property in all six townships, which he said would come to $6,000.

He said he and his wife are running for Mayor and Commissioner of Township Six, so that if the vote does pass, they can do what they call protecting the residents.

"Not a government, not a bunch of people that's in a Landowner's Association telling them this is what we're going to do and this is how we're going to do it," Jennings said. "It's going to be the people's choice in this township here, in Township Six."