The well can remain at its current depth, but Stow City Council decided Aug. 6 that it will not accept a contract to lease mineral rights for eight-tenths of a piece of city land needed to make a PEP Drilling hydraulic fracturing well deeper at the Church of New Hope.
Council's chambers were filled with clapping residents who opposed the drilling and were happy the legislation will die in committee. (Meaning, council decided it will not even vote on anything.)
The last known contract offered to the city by PEP was $20,000 plus royalty money.
Fill-in Law Director Amber Kerek said she could not go into detail about the contract that was presented to council Monday evening because she could not breach attorney-client privileges. But, she explained that some of the provisions in the lease presented to council were good but, "I think ... some that are essential to protecting the city's liability and economic interest are missing."
Many council members said whether the contract was perfect or not, they were not interested in leasing the land to allow additional drilling.
"The key factor here is that it abuts neighborhoods. Even if we never have an occurrence … any kind of damage or issue, that 1 percent chance or whatever is never good when there is a neighborhood involved," said Councilwoman Mary Bednar.
Normally the city doesn't have a say in whether a gas well can be drilled, which is why the well already exists on the church's property.
However PEP Drilling wanted to drill deeper, which expanded the radius around the well that it needed permission from landowners. When the radius expanded, the city's property below Ritchie Road was incorporated, prompting a decision from council.
Council President Jim Costello said, "We're required to go through this process through state law. But I think he needs to clean up the site and be gone."
The drill that is currently there can remain, but Kerek said she assumed the well wasn't profitable at the depth it is currently at because the owner wants to drill deeper.
"Technically, [PEP] could operate at that higher level ... he has signatures for the current depth," she said, adding there are several options PEP could take now that council is not leasing mineral rights to their small portion of land.
The company has the option to take the city to court and mandatory pooling is also an option.
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