Decision on Gas Well at Church Opposed by Residents Won't Come For Weeks
Several people from Stow and a nearby community came to Monday's meeting to voice their concerns about fracking. The church, however, would like to see the gas well completed.
A very small piece of city-owned property is causing a pretty big stir in Stow over a gas and oil well on church property.
On Monday, City Council had a public hearing to get feedback from the community on whether it should lease three-tenths of an acre to PEP Drilling for a gas well already drilled on the Church of New Hope's property.
Councilman Mike Rasor has been in talks with Bill Marks of PEP Drilling to come up with a contract to present the city.
Rasor said the latest and probably final offer is $20,000 plus royalty money. Nothing has been agreed to by the city — in fact, as of July 26, a draft of a contract had not been drawn up yet.
The well in question is already drilled at the church. Marks came to council when he found out that he needed to drill his well deeper. Originally Marks needed clearance on any property within a 20-acre radius of the well. Now, since the well needs to go deeper, he needs a 40-acre radius.
For a map of the area and additional information, check out the .pdf attached to this post that was provided by the city.
Within that 40-acre radius is the city's property beneath the street on Ritchie Road.
Associate Pastor of the Church of New Hope Paul Thompson said he wants the well to be functional for the church's benefit.
"We've been in this process for about three years with the driller. It has been a source of hope for us that we could essentially lower gas bills and maybe see a little bit of additional income," said Thompson, who also lives on Ritchie Road. "I see no plausible risk to children or youth of our church."
But many disagree. And about 25 more people who could not attend the meeting signed a petition against the land lease.
"My opinion is it would not be best interest of the majority of people in Stow to enter into a lease agreement with PEP Drilling for gas well next to Church of New Hope," said Stow resident Alice Marusiak. "A new study predicts fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts previously predicted."
She is also concerned with property values going down if the well is functional.
Council's chamber was filled with residents from Stow echoeing Marusiak's opinions on Monday. People from outside of Stow in Shalersville were also concerned about fracking.
"I just feel that we’re just at such a crucial moment in this matter of drilling," said Mary Grael to council. "People are angry and rising up and you have an opportunity to say no to this one little piece of property — $20,000 is not going to buy back your water and when we frack and drink bottled water … you’ll be glad you said no here."
PEP's representative, Mark, said his company not only follows all of the state and federal regulations on drilling — they go beyond it by testing the water frequently by a company contracted from Hudson.
"That being said, we have never contaminated any wells in this area or anywhere else — and we’ve drilled in 17 states," he said.
Council is not expected to make a decision on the land lease for weeks still. Expect the issue to come back to council during the week of Aug. 6.
How do you feel about the land lease? Should the city consider it? Is the well too risky for the area? Tell us in the comments.