Company plans to drill for gas near Willowdale

Some concerned about noise, decrease in property values

A company’s plans for an exploratory well have hit a wall after residents of the Willowdale subdivision in Luling expressed concerns over the noise and affect to property values.

Houston Energy submitted a permit request to the Department of Natural Resources in September for a drilling site that sat immediately adjacent to the 13th hole of Grand Ridge Golf Club. The company said it has since moved the drilling site to a location 700 feet north of the golf course and subdivision.

The company said this was done in an effort to assuage residents’ fears of excess noise and dust from the site. Any drilling site, by order of the DNR, must receive written consent from any resident living within 500 feet.

Heath Suire, representative for Houston Energy, emphasizes that the proposed well, which may produce oil or natural gas, is not going to utilize the controversial hydraulic fracking that has grown in recent years to great controversy. Houston Energy said that in the instance the well turns to production, only “one or two trucks will enter daily to remove the liquids produced from the well.”

Drilling at the site will last for just 45 days, Suire said, and will then be reduced to a producing well that will not be visible to either Willowdale Boulevard, Grand Ridge Golf Club or the homes of Willowridge subdivision.

The company assures that an environmental impact statement has been conducted that shows emissions will be well within state and federal guidelines. Suire also claimed property values in the area will “not be impacted negatively by this well,” citing independent reviews by real estate appraisal experts.

He added that thousands of similar wells have been drilled all over Louisiana, many in much closer proximity to neighborhoods than this project.

Still, Barbara Fuselier, President of the board of managers of the Grand Ridge Golf Club LLC, said the club had taken a position to oppose the drilling.

“Houston Energy has been very forthcoming with their information, but it’s just our concern, legitimately or not, is that some of our investors have been told it may cause the value of our property to go down” Fuselier said. “When the investors got together to reopen Willowdale as Grand Ridge, we wanted to keep the green space and the trees, and try to prevent any kind of housing development going on within the subdivision.”

Fusilier said that golf club investors also have safety concerns, though they have been told by Houston Energy that every precaution will be taken.

“But it’s a rig, there’s going to be drilling,” Fusilier said.

St. Charles Parish currently has 79 wells actively producing oil or gas.

In addition to the drill site, an access road is planned that would cut through the wetlands parallel to the levee that is formed around the golf course.

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