Mola Lenghi, Arlington Reporter
The city of Arlington is deciding whether to allow Chesapeake Energy to expand an existing gas well site in a neighborhood.
The Arlington City Council is considering whether to grant Chesapeake Energy a second gas well permit at the Rocking Horse drill site in south Arlington.
Chesapeake is currently permitted for one well, but spokesperson Julie Wilson said the company’s long-term vision includes about 10 wells for the site.
That doesn't sit well with some homeowners who live feet from the site.
“I think that drilling in itself is good for the economy, it’s good for the country," said Ray Hawkins, whose home is separated from the Chesapeake property by only a fence. "What I’m opposed to is drilling in our neighborhoods – where we live,”
Jerry Sloan lives just few houses down from Hawkins.
“I didn’t care too much for gas well to begin with,” said Sloan. “I don’t think it’s going to blow up or anything like that, I’m not worried about that. I just don’t think it was well thought out. The property backs behind me, which is just 500 feet and I’m standing on the well.”
The site on S. Collins Street falls in Councilmember Robert Rivera’s district.
“If residents who are supposed to benefit from the gas wells, if they are deciding they don’t want that in their immediate backyard, well how can I vote for it?” asked Rivera, who opposes the expansion of the wells.
Julie Wilson said there are about 1,400 residents and businesses in the area who stand to gain royalties from an additional well.
“It does have a positive economic impact on the city as a whole,” said Councilmember Rivera. “However, you have to balance that with the impact to the immediate surrounding neighborhood.”
Residents opposing the expansion complain about possible noise, construction and ground tremors, not to mention living so close to an industrial facility.
“I think the neighborhood and the people of Arlington feel somewhat helpless, like we don’t have a say in what Chesapeake does,” said Hawkins.
Wilson said Chesapeake understands people’s concerns and it’s is willing to hear from residents.