A familiar site at local City Council meetings — angry residents rebuking council members over a natural gas drilling issue — took on a new twist in Colleyville Tuesday night.
More than 50 residents urged the council to postpone a vote on leasing the city’s mineral rights with Fort Worth-based Titan Operating because the company had abruptly suspended signing leases with residents the day before. Residents wanted the council to pressure Titan to resume leasing activity with a local homeowners group before agreeing to vote on the measure.
After a tense two hours, the council voted 5-1 to approve the deal.
Mayor David Kelly and the council could not ignore the offer before the city — a $25,000-an-acre bonus and 25.5 percent royalty, giving the city a $7 million bonus for its 280 acres. Titan also agreed to donate $200,000 to the city’s parks department.
There was also a legal quandary. City Attorney Matthew Boyle advised the council that they could face criminal prosecution if they chose not to approve a measure that would benefit the city financially in order to help residents involved in private financial matters.
“I enjoy serving you but I’m not going to jail for you,” Councilman Tony Licata told the packed council chamber.
Councilman Tony Hart, the lone opposing vote on the measure, echoed citizens’ comments when he said that the deal wasn’t necessarily the best the city could get because the natural gas market could rebound in the future.
“The only thing we’d be losing out on is possibly a couple of million dollars,” Hart said. “I’m willing to roll the dice on this personally.”
Residents said they would not forget how council members voted on the issue, with a handful of people discussing a recall campaign.