On January 4, Arlington City Council denied a permit to place three gas wells near a daycare center.

The vote was 5-4 and came after the city council approved the project two months ago. A week ago, the daycare center and Liveable Arlington, an environmental group, sued the city, stating that city leaders were endangering the children’s health. To prevent the approval of the wells, the founder of Liveable Arlington, Wanda Vincent, sought a restraining order against the city, mayor, and city council.

“Children are being harmed,” said Ranjana Bhandari, the executive director of Liveable Arlington and Mother’s Heart Learning Center. “Somebody has to stand up for the mothers and families who are really distressed about this.”

The activists have accused the city council of not following the city’s own gas production ordinance from its November vote. According to the ordinance, drill zones within six hundred feet of buildings, like schools and homes, must receive a supermajority, which is seven votes, for approval. Instead, the council approved the permit in November by only six votes or a simple majority.

The lawsuit also states that the city is far more likely to deny permits opposed by white, wealthier neighborhoods than Black and Latino neighborhoods, accusing Arlington of racial discrimination.

According to the lawsuit, the daycare, Mother’s Heart Learning Center, is attended by children of color exclusively. Its approximately 637 feet from the drilling site. The site, located at 2000 S. Watson Road, was initially approved for drilling in 2010 and is already home to two gas wells.

Total Energies, the French energy company in charge of these wells, has agreed to limit future wells on the site to more than 600 feet from Mother’s Heart Learning Center. In the November hearings for the initial approval, Arlington council members initially said they feared costly litigation if they voted to deny the permit.