June 29, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Drilling on city property

Staff Writer

BRUNSWICK — At Pepperwood Park off Grafton Road there’s grassy open space, a lake and a basketball court. About 10 years ago, a drilling company proposed putting an oil or natural gas well there as well.

City council denied the company’s request to drill, said Mayor Dale Strasser, who was a councilman at the time. Drilling might not happen at Pepperwood Park, but Strasser is suggesting the city revisit the idea of drilling on city property.

“Back then, we didn’t want anything to do with it. But 10 years ago the economy was a different situation,” he said. “And in 10 years, the safety concerns and the environmental impact (of drilling) have been greatly lessened by a lot of new techniques.”

About 10 years ago, Brunswick City Council rejected a proposal to drill for oil or natural gas in Pepperwood Park. Mayor Dale Strasser suggests Brunswick revisit the idea of drilling on city property. (Shirley Ware | Photo Editor)

In his State of the City address last week and in his report to council Monday, Strasser said drilling for oil or natural gas on city property might be a way to bring in some money.

“I think we have to think out of the box to bring in any revenue and to take the burden off the taxpayers,” Strasser said Thursday.

“If there’s no interest out there, it’s not going anywhere; but if we have interest, it might be something we have to look into,” he said.

He explained much of Brunswick sits on Clinton sandstone, which is often an indicator that oil and natural gas lies beneath the ground.

Strasser has suggested to council and City Manager Bob Zienkowski that the city put out a request for proposals to oil and natural gas drillers to see if there’s any drillable fossil fuels beneath city property.

“I think its worth looking into,” Strasser said. “I think the first one to get into the game is the one that’s going to make out on it.”

Zienkowski acknowledged drilling as a potential revenue source, but stressed careful measures would have to take place if it happened.

“I think the biggest concern would be the regulation of those most important factors: public safety and location,” Zienkowski said. “But if there’s a way these can provide cost savings to the city, the school and the residents in a safe manner, I think we have to look at every option out there.”

He said the city may conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the situation and then hold discussions with potential drilling companies and other communities who have drilled on city land.

In 2004, the state enacted a law that said any local zoning or ordinances regarding drilling are superseded by state statutes, Brunswick Law Director Ken Fisher said. Any new drillings in Ohio must be permitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The 2004 law states drilling must be at least 300 feet from any structures, Fisher said, and it must occur on at least 20 contiguous acres. Fisher said the minimum 20 acres could be “unitized,” meaning they could be comprised of multiple parcels owned by different parties.

But talks of oil or natural gas drilling in Brunswick is still in the infancy stage, Fisher said.

“I haven’t been asked to look into any of this yet,” he said.

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.