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The Suburbanite
  • Meyers Lake bans oil, gas exploration

  • Amid a boisterous and vocal crowd, Village Council unanimously banned any expansion of oil and gas exploration at a meeting Monday.

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  • Amid a boisterous and vocal crowd, Village Council unanimously banned any expansion of oil and gas exploration at a meeting Monday.
    Despite warnings from Village Counsel Dean Dahl, Councilman Joe Boda’s proposal was approved to applause from residents.
    The ordinance, adopted on an emergency basis so it would go into effect immediately, bans horizontal hydraulic fracturing, “fracking,” or deepening of any existing wells to extract oil or natural gas, or to dispose of the sand, water and chemical byproducts the drilling process creates.
    The ordinance also forbids village residents from selling or leasing mineral rights beneath their property for oil and gas exploration.
    Of concern is that Meyers Lake Preserve, the nonprofit owner of the lake, sold the mineral rights under the lake in March 2011 to Chesapeake Energy, and that drilling beneath the lake could contaminate it and nearby water wells.
    “The preserve has not been apprised by Chesapeake of any intention to frack under the lake,” said preserve attorney Amanda Martinsek of Cleveland. “We have no notice of any intent to drill, nor does Chesapeake have any rights to drill on the Preserve’s property.”
    Chesapeake has no permit to drill in the Meyers Lake area, according to state records.
    Attorney Dahl said Chesapeake could go ahead and drill, and then the village would have to pursue the company in court. He stopped short of telling council not to pass the ordinance, but said it had no authority to tell property owners what to do with mineral rights, except for zoning or police issues.
    “As it stands now, the ordinance that is going to be presented to council tonight is preempted by laws of the of the state of Ohio,” he said before the vote.
    Boda said his understanding of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions gives municipalities “the power to regulate for the local, health, safety and welfare.”
    Resident Rose Elmerick told council the village needs an “anti-fracking” attorney. “Find out what there is to do. Find an expert,” she said. “There are ways that we can put up roadblocks, and we need an expert to tell us how to put up those roadblocks.”