DENTON, Texas (AP) — A North Texas city could become the first in the state to ban hydraulic fracturing if city leaders approve a grassroots petition to outlaw the drilling method.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1q8mONV ) that Denton city staffers expect Tuesday evening's public hearing on the measure to draw a huge crowd to city hall.

A Colorado-based group has been circulating a competing petition in support of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The head of the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry wrote to Denton city officials Thursday asking them to withhold their support for the petition. Outgoing Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman likened it to a "ban on drilling" that could injure the state's economy.

Even if the council rejects the ban, Denton residents could vote on it in November.