By Camaron Abundes
Midland- The Oil & Gas Task Force, created by the Midland City Council in August, held it's first public meeting on Tuesday. Chairman Chuck Hedges called for public comment. Just one independent contractor addressed the committee. Members vowed to beef up publicity for the next meeting scheduled for December 15th at 5:30 p.m.
According to the August City Council minutes, Mayor Wes Perry expects to see more applications to drill inside the city limits. The ad hoc task force must make recommendations that will facilitate both oil and gas development and real estate development in the city. Members said Tuesday, they expect to make those recommendations by February.
"The mineral rights owner has the right to develop their minerals," Hedges said. "We envision a situation where the two sets of ownership talk much earlier on."
Hedges says in the past home developers have been at odds with oil and gas companies because developers spend years and thousands of dollars planning developments and if a mineral rights owner decides they want to drill the city can do little to stop the company from drilling, unless they purchase the mineral rights.
"If we've got this constant tension between real estate development and oil and gas development, it makes it much more difficult to develop housing," Hedges said.
At Tuesdays meeting, members of the task force talked about expansive oil formations beneath the City of Midland. Members hope to bring members of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association, Home Builders Association of Midland, and Permian Basin Board of Realtors.
Hedges said bringing industry insiders together, especially on new development deals, will help the city avoid lawsuits. He says on existing developments the Task Force will make different recommendations.
"Areas where there are homes and business already existing than they'll have to be treated somewhat differently than the new areas that are being built, particularly north and west of town," Hedges said.