By Anita Miller
In a special called meeting Monday night, the city of Kyle unanimously approved an offer to settle pending litigation with Kinder Morgan.
Under terms of the deal, the city will exempt the energy giant from its new pipeline ordinance in exchange for two cash payments totaling $2.7 million.
But the move doesn’t put the dispute completely to an end, one council member reminded the public.
The motion was to authorize the Kyle City Council to finalize the settlement, under which Kinder Morgan, which is planning to run its Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) through the city and a significant chunk of Hays County, will pay the city half of the $2.7 million once the project is completed, with the other half due in one year’s time.
In return, Kinder Morgan is not subject to the terms of the city’s pipeline ordinance, which was approved early in July and amended Sept. 10 with language that recognizes the jurisdiction of the state of Texas and the federal government.
The settlement offer, which was detailed by attorney Bill Christian, requires that the city and Kinder Morgan would enter into a right-of-way agreement stating that the city would not be subject to additional delay costs in excess of what is allowed by statute. Also, the city would issue Kinder Morgan a road crossing permit.
Christian said the parties will continue to negotiate over the course of the next two weeks if granted a continuance by the district court.
That point was stressed by council member Daphne Tenorio. “I want to make sure everybody understands. This is not a done deal yet. We are allowing two additional weeks to negotiate. This will come back … this is an opportunity to continue the talks.”
The litigation the offer may settle is but the latest battle in a war many county residents and governmental entities have been waging against the PHP since news of the 42-inch natural gas pipeline was made known in the fall of 2018.
Hays County passed a resolution against the pipeline as did several cities including Kyle, along with a number of school districts and groundwater conservation groups.
An earlier lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of granting of the power of eminent domain to infrastructure projects including pipelines was struck down by a judge.
Kinder Morgan Vice President Allen Fore noted that the agreement is “tentative.”
“We’ve been working with the city for some time,” he said. “With any litigation, we’re happy to find what we believe is a mutually agreeable solution … I think we have a good structure, a good framework. We will work over the next couple of weeks to finalize that and litigation being dismissed and the city council approving that.”
Fore also expressed his thanks to Mayor Travis Mitchell. “I compliment his efforts on behalf of the city … it took a lot of time and both parties were very interested in trying to find a resolution.”