The Georgetown City Council approved a rezoning request for a crude oil pump station Tuesday night after a judge refused to issue a restraining order to stop the vote.
Georgetown resident Dr. Jeffrey Miller filed a lawsuit against the city Friday asking for the restraining order until his appeal to the Georgetown Zoning Board of Adjustment was resolved. The appeal says city Planning Director Sofia Nelson misinterpreted the definition of utility services allowed for business park zoning to include a crude oil pump station.
District Judge Ryan Larson refused to issue the restraining order Tuesday morning.
Bryn Meredith, a Fort Worth attorney who advises cities on oil and gas law, told council members Tuesday night before their unanimous vote the only authority they had over the pump station was to regulate how it looks and how much noise it makes.
Georgetown developer Greg Hall was the only member of the public who spoke out against the pump station at the council meeting Tuesday. He said it was going to be placed on “prime income-producing” Georgetown real estate that could be developed instead into restaurants and apartments. The pump station would destroy the view from the ridge that he owns above it, Hall said.
He said the ridge was the highest point along Interstate 35 in the state.
Graham Bacon, the vice president of operations for Enterprise Products — which plans to build the crude oil pump station on two acres of a 10-acre tract the company owns on Rabbit Hill Road in Georgetown — said at the council meeting it would be built with noise reduction panels and enclosed in a building.
“Does crude oil explode?,” said Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross. “No, not this type,” said Bacon. He said the pump station would comply with federal and state safety regulations and be monitored 24 hours a day by camera. He also said a company employee would always be no more than 15 to 20 minutes away from the pump station in case of an emergency.
Council Member Rachael Jonrowe said before the council voted she would like to see in the future a new zoning category that would include businesses such as gas stations and oil pumping stations.
The lawsuit against the city is still pending despite the judge’s refusal to issue a restraining order, said Brett Miller, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit for Jeffrey Miller and is also his son. The lawsuit says the pump station severely limits Jeffrey Miller’s access to his 10-acre cattle ranch property, which Miller can only get to through land owned by the pipeline company.
Bacon said Tuesday at the council meeting that the pump station would not affect Jeffrey Miller’s access to his property.
The Georgetown City Council approved a request in its initial vote Dec. 13 to change the zoning of 10 acres owned by Enterprise Products on Rabbit Hill Road from agricultural to business park. The company wants to build the pump station for the yet-to-be-built Enterprise crude oil pipeline, proposed to run from Midland to Sealy.
This article has been updated to correct the name of the judge who heard the case.