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Youngstown council OKs legislation to lease land for drilling

Published: Thu, October 18, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.


By David Skolnick



In a somewhat heated and confrontational environment, city council approved legislation by a 5-2 vote to allow the city to solicit offers from companies to lease city-owned land for gas and oil drilling.

But drilling isn’t going to come for some time.

The city needs to resolve a number of issues — including title searches and determining if there are land restrictions — before starting the process of finding a company interested in the leasing rights, said city Finance Director David Bozanich.

Though a precise time line isn’t known, Bozanich said it could take six to eight months.

That also fits with a request from some council members — and originally suggested by state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngs-town, D-60th — to first wait until a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency progress report on fracking is done.

The first progress report is planned for later this year.

But if the study is delayed significantly, the city will move ahead without that information, Bozanich said.

A final draft report is expected for public commentin 2014, according to the EPA. The report, conducted at the request of Congress, will examine any potential impacts fracking has on water.

If the progress report says fracking is bad, the city can halt the process of finding a company willing to lease its land for drilling, Bozanich said. “If it says it’s benign, we’ll proceed,” he said.

Also, council has the right to rescind the legislation it passed Wednesday, Bozanich said.

The time line did next to nothing to change the positions of the nearly 50 people at council’s meeting opposing the drilling.

Some said they plan to get signatures on petitions to overturn council’s vote for either the May 2013 election or a special election before that date.

Councilmen Mike Ray, D-4th, and Paul Drennen, D-5th, voted against the proposal because they want council’s final approval on any drilling contract.

The others disagreed, saying that isn’t done with other contracts.

“We have experienced professionals on staff who can handle this,” said Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, during the finance committee meeting before council met in chambers.

Mayor Charles Sammarone recommends using money from the leases toward residential demolition and neighborhood improvements.

Sammarone wasn’t at Wednesday’s council meeting because of a previously scheduled vacation.

During the finance committee meeting, Drennen said council doesn’t always agree on everything, and brought up the 4-3 vote from two weeks ago on a resolution asking state officials to fill a vacant municipal court judicial seat.

That led to a heated exchange between Tarpley, who wants the seat filled, and Drennen, who wants the position eliminated to reduce the city’s budget.

Toward the end of council’s meeting, Drennen apologized “for my outburst.”

Ray Beiersdorfer, a Youngs-town State University professor in its geological and environmental sciences department, told council that approving the ordinance would lead to polluted air, water and soil.

Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, said Beiersdorfer hadn’t said anything against fracking until earthquakes near an injection well occurred last year.

The professor said that wasn’t true.

Another speaker, Tiffany Gregory, criticized council for not putting a proposed charter amendment, proposed by a charter-review committee, that would reduce their annual salaries on the ballot to let voters decide.

If that proposal is not put on the May 2013 ballot, Gregory said she will collect signatures on a petition to put that measure in front of voters.

“We’ll fire your [behinds],” she said.

Gillam said the comment was “very disrespectful.”

Her husband, Artis Gillam Sr., a former councilman, said that serving on council is a full-time position and the $27,817 annual salary is earned.

The charter-review committee recommended reducing council members’ salaries to about $20,722 a year, 80 percent of the average annual income of a city resident.

“It’s a shame that some people are envious of council members that they want to drop councils’ salaries,” Artis Gillam Sr. said.


1Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

"Ray Beiersdorfer, a Youngs-town State University professor in its geological and environmental sciences department, told council that approving the ordinance would lead to polluted air, water and soil."

- - - They don't care about folks getting cancer, getting sick from poisoned water and air. They don't care about the babies and little children. "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."
There will be a day when they will give an account of themselves before almighty God.

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2Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

"That also fits with a request from some council members — and originally suggested by state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngs-town, D-60th — to first wait until a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency progress report on fracking is done.

The first progress report is planned for later this year.

But if the study is delayed significantly, the city will move ahead without that information, Bozanich said."

How does it fit? They have approved of it before the EPA report was concluded. Also they clearly misrepresented the citizens of Youngstown who overwhelmingly opposed fracking in the city. So how is this democratic government when the desires of the people are completely ignored instead of carried out?

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3ytownsteelman(628 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Why would the people of Youngstown want to continue to wallow in poverty and not pull themselves out of it? Every acre of land in the city has value now. The risks have been greatly trumped up by the antifracking crowd. Notice that they always talk in broad generalities:it will "pollute our water, soil and air", but do not back that up with specific claims. Also, does not the thousands of houses that this money will pay to demolish already pollute the community? Our water comes from a reservoir 20 miles away; any air pollution (I guess from diesel exhaust) will only be temporary; and these companies have good records of cleaning up any messes they make.

The steel mills did far worse and did it for over a century nonstop. We all survived and PROSPERED during that century.

Maybe the people of Youngstown have "battered resident syndrome", where they keep making decisions to keep themselves down. Its strange.

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4Voodoo(2 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Wow seems like I read a lot of this doomsday stuff
40years ago when the exact same thing was being said about the steel mills It's time to move
On into the future

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5RobX(59 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago


City council did NOT misrepresent the citizens of Youngstown, because the citizens do NOT overwhelmingly oppose fracking. One bunch of loudmouths opposes fracking. Yeah, that bunch's hysteria has gotten some people worried, but if those people would look at the facts they'd see the hysteria for what it is. Most people already see that.

City government shouldn't base its decisions on who shouts the loudest, as the antifrackers were hoping. Council was smart for doing it right.

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6GeorgeinYoungstown(76 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Youngstown has decided to sell it's soul to the highest bidder. The Mayor + 5 City Council members, have decided to place short term gain over the long term health & safety of our community.

Across this city, from the North to the South, to the East & West Sides, groups of citizens are working to build a more sustainable city. Community gardens, orchards & remediation projects, are already a reality, or in the works, joining scores of similar efforts around the nation. City officials have no idea how much they've harmed these efforts in our City.

For better or worse, via social media, word will travel fast about this decision & the country will soon view Youngstown as, once again, a joke - settling for the quick, easy buck, instead of being a serious, responsible player in the post-industrial economy - especially in light of our recent experience.

Instead of building on these efforts, & becoming a leader in the new economy, the Mayor & City Council have decided to take a step back to the 19th Century. Instead of striving to be at the forefront of this burgeoning movement - with its concomitant hi-tech benefits - they've decided to turn to the fleeting, illusory & ultimately destructive boom/bust cycle of the shale industry.

What is troubling is that our city leaders failed to live up to their responsibilities as defenders of the public health & safety. If they had done their due diligence, names like Dish, TX, Pavillion, WY, and Dimock, PA, would be common knowledge to them. They would have commissioned a cost/benefit analysis that would show that urban drilling will suppress property values, reduce the chances of securing mortgages & would understand the higher costs associated with the onslaught of issues, including road repair, pollution mitigation, hazmat/health/safety & other emergency services, not to mention the worst case scenario of the cost to provide the city with drinking water in the event Meander Reservoir is contaminated.

But what is most troubling to this citizen is the message the Mayor & City Council is sending to our young people - those who we're trying to keep out of a life of crime, violence, & gangs, and the lure of easy money.

In the words of the Mayor, "We didn't invent this - everybody is doing it!" (Referring to surrounding communities like Campbell, Struthers, & individual landowners in the City, who are leasing their mineral rights.)

Is this the example we want to give to our young people? That since "everyone is doing it," it must, by definition, be the right thing to do - no matter what the long term consequences?

"Go ahead, take the easy money, because - after all, "Everyone is doing it!?"

Not in my name do the Mayor & City Council send this message to our young people.

Not in my name can the Mayor & City Council any longer plead ignorance to the ramifications of their decision.

And not in my name do the Mayor & City Council sell our City's Soul to the highest bidder!

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7cambridge(3013 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Georgein....It's posts like yours that make me proud to be from the valley. Your points were expressed perfectly, do not give up your fight. The valley deserves better than what big oil and gas has to offer because there are far better, cleaner and renewable sources of energy.

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8Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

@ RobXCity "council did NOT misrepresent the citizens of Youngstown, because the citizens do NOT overwhelmingly oppose fracking."

What?????????? How many pro fracking signatures vs non fracking signatures were presented at that meeting?

Those 'loudmouths " are American citizens who wish not to be poisoned nor to have their families poisoned.
Put it on the BALLOT and let the citizens decide. To proceed without the will of the people is a sham at best.

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9Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

How did we ever heat our homes without horizontal fracking before? How did we ever extract natural gas before horizontal fracking ? If we don't horizontal frack the world as we know it will end. Horses will multiply and run all over the city. Traditional drilling is now erased like magic it never existed-poof.

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10Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

"Well Ben, that easy gas and oil is all but gone. " - -- I don't buy that one.

"How can live with yourself knowing that your dollars are being spent by the oil and gas companies on what you so despise?"- - - My conscience is clear.

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11southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Too much money is at stake to worry about the mere safety of people....fracking is bad - unkay?

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12Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

"We are still waiting for the first person to drop dead from fracking in Youngstown ..." You'll be waiting a long time fracking fluid contents are proprietary? Isn't that nice?

Lets put fracking on the ballot. Let the people decide. Are the frackers afraid it won't pass?

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13RobX(59 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

@bigben -

It's amazing you think the petitions at the council meeting represent the will of all the citizens! The crowd that stormed the meeting IS the antifracking group. They've shouted down everyone else. They're loudest, but they're not representative.

Vindy did a poll on Youngstown fracking. Look it up, it was an even split, DESPITE the antifrackers recruiting every "no" vote they could possibly drum up. Most people aren't even worried enough to vote. The majority do NOT oppose fracking. A really random telephone poll would show that.

Council did their homework. They read, they studied, & they decided the armageddon cries are baloney. Deal with it.

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14UticaShale(854 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Funny to read what the urban center hipsters here are writing. They think that the whole Utica shale revolves around Youngstown. If any of you want to get a pulse on the silent majority with roughly 90% of the Utica acreage, click on GoMarcellusshale.com and become educated like the landowners of the Marcellus and Utica have been doing since the global energy companies have been plunking down BILLIONS of dollars all around little Youngstown. The landowners in the Utica represent BILLIONS of dollars in mineral rights and right now they are redistributing wealth the old fashion American way, in free enterprise.
The receipient class here in Youngstown are clamoring like Youngstown's acreage is the Ewing estate. It is a drop in the bucket compared to private acreage all around you. Here in Ohio the tail will not wag the dog. Thousands of the silent majority across the nation know that energy is the new frontier for America and it will be unstoppable for the next fifty years. Global money does not even have Youngstown on its radar. Youngstown is merely a nat on an elephant, the fracsters are only spoiled brats seeking attention and really are insignificant.

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15Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

RobX Thanks for expressing your opinion. However, the only democratic way to decide is to vote. All else is just that an opinion.

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16Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Lets have the vote. No more canned meetings.This is America let the will of the people be heard at the ballot box.

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