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Water utility company for now drops its bid to lift land restrictions



Published: Fri, August 16, 2013 @ 7:21 p.m.

Water utility company for now drops its bid to lift land restrictions

Company drops bid to lift land restrictions

YOUNGSTOWN

A subsidiary of Aqua America has dropped its request to lift land restrictions on six acres near the Beachwood Estates subdivision, giving 39 landowners there who feared oil and gas drilling peace of mind for now.

The 39 property owners had been engaged in an awkward legal stand-off with Aqua Infrastructure for more than three weeks. In July, they all received a court-issued summons notifying them that a response was required so a judge could make summary judgment to clarify an 83-year-old warranty deed that they control.

Although it isn’t entirely clear why the company filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court this week, an overwhelming majority of the 39 property owners listed in the summons were opposed to lifting any land restrictions on the property because they feared oil and gas drilling near the subdivision.

Since July 23, the group had been meeting almost regularly each week to discuss it they would stave off the company’s attempt to clear the restrictions. The group’s cause had become another bullet on a long list of growing concerns among the industry’s critics who fear the consequences of further oil and gas drilling as operations spread into urbanized areas.

“I told my sister, I’ll shout when I get my papers,” said Beachwood resident Susie M. Ford, speaking about the notice of dismissal she received in the mail on Wednesday. “But I don’t believe for one minute they dropped the [complaint] because we were upset. They told T.J. that if this happens again they’ll approach us individually.”

T.J. Rodgers, Youngstown’s 2nd Ward councilman who lives in the subdivision and was included in the summons, first gathered the group. Rodgers said he spoke with an Aqua representative who told him the request was not handled properly. Rodgers confirmed Ford’s comments by saying Aqua informed him that if any similar request was made in the future, the company would first reach out to him so a meeting could be arranged between both sides.

Read more in Saturday’s Vindicator.


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