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The Suburbanite
  • MWCD seeks comments on leasing at Piedmont Lake

  • The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District will have an open house at 6 p.m. Wednesday to get public input on plans to lease property the MWCD owns at Piedmont Lake in Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison counties.
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  • The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District will have an open house at 6 p.m. Wednesday to get public input on plans to lease property the MWCD owns at Piedmont Lake in Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison counties.
    The event will be at the James Carnes Center, 45300 Roscoe Road, St. Clairsville, near the Belmont County Fairgrounds and off Exit 213 of I-70.
    Comments and input also can be sent directly to the MWCD via email at piedmontcomments@mwcd.org.
    MWCD staff members will provide details about the conservancy district's leasing history and recent leases at three other reservoirs for Utica Shale development, as well as to discuss plans for leasing at Piedmont Lake, collect input and answer questions.
    The MWCD manages more than 6,600 acres of property at Piedmont Lake, and most of it is not under lease for Utica Shale development.
    Darrin Lautenschleger, MWCD public affairs administrator, said the meeting is being held at St. Clairsville because the bulk of the property that may be leased is in Belmont County.
    The MWCD has been contacted repeatedly in recent months by oil and gas development companies seeking to negotiate for the rights to access the Utica Shale in the Piedmont Lake region.
    At this time, the MWCD is preparing to begin these negotiations and it is the intent of the MWCD to restrict oil and gas development to those areas that will minimize the impact on the lake community and normal recreational enjoyment of the lake region, up to and including the possible prohibition of well pads and production lines on MWCD property, commonly referred to as "nondevelopment leases."
    The MWCD previously has agreed to leases for property it owns at three other lake regions: Clendening Lake in Harrison County in 2011, Leesville Lake in Carroll County in 2012 and Seneca Lake in Guernsey and Noble counties in 2013.
    The revenues generated from the signing bonuses agreed to in the leases have enabled the MWCD to pay down its debt and to plan for and begin making upgrades to its public recreational facilities.