Highland Heights Gas Well Hearing Set for March 6
ODNR representatives will answer questions about the drilling process.
Highland Heights residents didn't want to wait for a public hearing to voice opposition to a proposal to lease two gas wells in the city's park.
A public hearing on the matter will be at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 at City Hall. Council President Cathy Murphy said two representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will attend to answer questions about gas wells and the drilling process.
"It's really a question and answer for residents who are concerned and have questions about the gas well drilling process," she said.
Murphy added that no decision has been made and a vote on the lease isn't expected to be taken until at least March 13. The proposal is an attempt to settle a $7 million lawsuit filed by Bass Energy in 2008, after the city tried to back out of a lease agreement.
Residents who voiced opinions at Tuesday night's meeting clearly want council to vote against the lease.
Friend of Euclid Creek President Frank Skala and Treasurer Ken Messenger-Rapport presented city officials with a letter outlining the danger to the Euclid Creek watershed posed by the prospect of drilling.
Messenger-Rapport said there is the potential for drinking water to become contaminated.
"The chemicals used in fracking are well known to be carcinogenic," he said.
Scott Mills, a former council president who ran against Mayor Scott Coleman last fall, admitted that he voted for the original lease with Bass Energy in 2007.
"Council was sold a bill of goods at the time," he said. "I'll admit I made a mistake. I didn't know what I didn't know."
He then blamed the Coleman for the city's predicament, charging that Coleman signed a lease without first having three well sites selected and approved by Bass Energy, the mayor and council.
"The mayor ignored that and signed the lease," Mills said. "When push came to shove, he blamed Bass Energy."
Amy Feran estimated that a $10,000 fee and 12.5 percent royalty stipulated in the proposed lease agreement would net the city $150,000 over 10 years per well.
"Do you really think drilling in the park for $30,000 a year is a good deal for the city?" she said.
Since the public comment portion of the meeting is not set as a dialogue, there were no answers provided to any questions, rhetorical or otherwise. Murphy noted that the March 6 meeting will be the time for discussion.