Local government no longer has a say in drilling issues.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- In recent weeks, several residents have approached City Manager Charles Tieche about gas well drilling.
The residents have been offered lease agreements from a gas company that wants to drill on property owned by a church in the city.
The city doesn't have jurisdiction to say yes or no, Tieche said. But property owners can stop the drilling by refusing to enter into the agreements.
"The local government doesn't have the ability to regulate that," he said. "The people in the neighborhood are the only ones that can do it."
Nearly a year ago, the state Legislature changed the law regulating gas and oil well drilling.
Companies formerly had to submit permits to the state, saying they would follow all local regulations. Many townships and municipalities had zoning regulations governing where gas wells could be placed.
But the new law removed that requirement, leaving permitting regulations strictly in the hands of state officials.
Tom Tugend, deputy chief with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Mineral Resources Management, said that to drill a gas well, a company must obtain a minimum 40-acre lease.
A well cannot be closer than 500 feet from someone who doesn't have a lease agreement.
If a company wanted to drill a gas well, for example, it would have to enter a lease agreement with the property owner as well as with those surrounding that property.
For a directional well, or one where a company drills vertically for a distance and then changes the direction of drilling to access the gas, the requirement is different.
But Tugend said it would be difficult to achieve the drilling without a distance of at least 50 feet from a neighboring property line, because of the size of the equipment required.
"Most are at least 150 feet wide," he said.
Directional drilling is typically done under a body of water or under an environmentally-sensitive area.
"There are about 30 wells per year that are drilled directionally," Tugend said.
Since the city doesn't have the authority to regulate the wells, Tieche said the best way for residents to keep them out of their neighborhoods is for neighbors to decide together not to go into the lease agreements with the company.
"They are in control of their own destiny with regard to that," Tieche said.