Monthly Archives: June 2015

Has decision been made on the owner/operator of the water systems for two Oakland Township areas?

At the May 26, 2015 BOT meeting, the Board’s discussion alluded to the fact that the Board was still looking at several options on who will manage the water supply systems for two areas of Oakland Township.  Here is a link to the discussions at that meeting.  Trustee Giannangeli indicated there were several options that the Township was considering.

Is Detroit Water still an option for parts of Oakland Township?

At the June 23, 2015 BOT meeting, Treasurer Langlois announced that there will be a meeting between the Township Attorney and the Oakland County Water Resource Commission Attorney to:

“clarify the legal arrangement between the Township and the County, so that as we contemplate major improvements to the system, we understand the status of that and how the legal arrangement works – will work- into the future.”

Here is a video of Ms. Langlois’ comments:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  In less than a month, it appears the Township Board has moved from having several options under consideration to having selected the Oakland County Water Resource Commission as the source for managing and maintaining the water supply systems for two areas in our Township.  This apparent decision appears to have been made outside any public meeting, and without a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages for all the options that were under consideration less than a month ago.

Where and when did that discussion and decision occur in a public meeting?

Richard Michalski

Results of June 23, 2015 BOT discussion on Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township

There were a number of concerned citizens who were at the June 23, 2015 Board of Oakland Township meeting sharing their concerns over the potential drilling for oil and gas in our community.  Their concerns focused on the negative impact that drilling would have on surrounding residential properties, the aquifers that supply drinking water in our community and sensitive environmental parcels.  One of the citizens was a person from Rochester Hills who has become very knowledgable on the oil and gas drilling issue in their community.  She made several recommendations to our Board and offered to work with Staff to help them come up to speed quickly on this issue.

The Board listened to the citizen concerns and suggestions, and asked that the Township attorney investigate the possibility of implementing a ‘moratorium’ on new drilling sites until we have an opportunity to review and potentially update our zoning ordinance.  The Board asked that the attorney provide the Board feedback by the next Board meeting on July 14th.  

A video of several of the key items discussed at the meeting is shown here:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  An aggressive approach by our Board at investigating establishing a moratorium, as several other communities have done, to give the Planning Commission time to look at modifying our Zoning Ordinance for Board approval, could decrease the likelihood of wells being drilled in inappropriate areas.  This will be a challenge given the restrictions that are placed on Township’s in regulating well locations, but the Attorney indicated our Zoning Ordinance is the only way we will be able to control well locations in the future.

One of the Trustees suggested that the residents need to contact their State Legislators to ask them to support measures that would give local communities more control on oil and gas drilling.

The Planning Commission does not need the approval of the Board to begin to study possible changes to the zoning ordinance.  They should consider the advice of the Township Planning Consultant and the Township Attorney.  However, they do not need to wait until the Board makes a decision on a ‘moratorium’.  I recommend that citizens attend the July 7th Planning Commission and request they start the process now.

A special thanks goes out to all the concerned citizens from Oakland Township, and our surrounding communities, that came out to share their perspectives on this issue at the June 23rd meeting.

Richard Michalski

UPDATE: Oil and Gas well sites in Oakland Township and Surrounding Communities

UPDATE:  At the Oakland Township Board meeting tonight (June 23, 2015) Treasurer Langlois properly corrected me.  In looking at the ‘respectmyplanet.org’ website, I had missed that there are two oil wells IN Oakland Township. I had missed seeing them. They were missed among the many ‘dry hole’ well locations that are shown in video below.   The two oil wells are just north of the Myth Golf Club and Banquet facility on Stoney Creek Road.  They appear to be located in a secluded portion of the Township.  Thank you Jeanne for the correction!  

Richard Michalski 

 The attached video shows the various wells that are located in our region and our Township.  The source of the information is respectmyplanet.org website.

It is a short video. It includes an aerial view of the closest oil well site to Oakland Township (see update statement above).  It is located in Addison Township, very close to Lakeville Lake.  There are two wells at this location.  They appear to have started production in 1970’s per the records on the website.  One of the wells appears to have been converted to a ‘brine well’ in 2008. 

The video gives a perspective on what an oil production facility could look like after years of operation.

If any of you want to learn how to search for information on various wells in Michigan, please go to the following YouTube website.  Please note that only wells that have had the drilling approved are shown.  Lease agreements, like the two Oakland Township sites recently  reported on this website, are not shown.

How to search for well site information in Michigan

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The current records indicate that there are not many oil or gas wells in Oakland Township.  In fact, many of them are categorized as ‘dry holes’.  With new production techniques, these wells could become viable, especially if the price of oil goes up in the future.  Our country’s desire for energy independence will continue to place pressures on discovering new sources for gas and oil.

Oakland Township appears to have an opportunity to implement a brief moratorium on drilling, like Rochester Hills and Shelby Township have done, to allow our Township to implement ordinances that could prevent the type of operation that exists in Addison Township near critical Oakland Township resources or residential properties.

The Oakland Township Board should ask the Supervisor of Addison Township for an opportunity to visit the Lakeville oil well site to get an appreciation for what may be in store for our community.

Please come to the June 23rd Board meeting to learn more about what Oakland Township will be doing to protect our community.  Here is a copy of the agenda:

June 23, 2015 BOT agenda

Richard Michalski

JUNE 21st UPDATE: Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township? Please attend June 23 Board meeting!

As previously reported, a discussion about Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township is on the June 23, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting.  Assuming the Board will allow comments from citizens on this subject, we anticipate spokespersons from the Rochester Hills Don’t Drill the Hills group, and the Shelby Citizens Against Residential Drilling group (CARD)  will provide specific suggestions to our Board based on their communities’ recent experiences.  

If you want to learn more about this issue in Oakland Township, and/or have some opinions on it, please come to the June 23rd meeting.  Oakland Township Citizen involvement  is important on this critical issue.

Here is a copy of the agenda:

June 23, 2015 BOT agenda

Here is a link to a recent Oakland Press article regarding this topic:

June 19th Oakland Press article

Richard Michalski

JUNE 17th UPDATE: Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township?

There are several new developments regarding the potential drilling for oil and gas in Oakland Township.  As previously reported, one property owner signed a lease agreement with West Bay Exploration Company.  The property involved in that agreement is 3700 Dutton Road.

It was discovered that West Bay Exploration Company also recorded another agreement on May 11, 2015.  This lease agreement is with the Oakland Christian Church located at the southwest corner of Silverbell and Adams Road.

Here is a map showing the location of the two properties:

 

Dutton and Church lease sites

 

(click to enlarge image)

At the June 15, 2015 Rochester Hill City Council meeting, there were approximately 12 Rochester Hills citizens that expressed concerns over the possible drilling at the Dutton Road location, which is near Musson Elementary School in our Township.  In anticipation of the outpouring of citizen concerns for drilling at that location, Mayor Barnett contacted West Bay Exploration Company earlier that day to understand their drilling intentions.  Mayor Barnett indicated that West Bay said there was “no interest in doing anything at that site” and “they are planning to ‘pull’ all of (their) Northern Oakland County activities”.  Barnett asked that they document that intention in writing.

Mayor Barnett later explained the history behind the volatile issue of drilling in Rochester Hills.  He stated Rochester Hills has taken very aggressive steps to protect the citizens from drilling in Rochester Hills through their recent ordinance changes.  He indicated that their ordinances may be challenged in court.  He went on to explain the delicate balance between the rights of property owners vs. protecting the larger community against indiscriminate drilling in the community.  He feels Rochester Hills has done everything they can do, but have no control over what happens in Oakland Township.

Here is a copy of the Dutton Road lease agreement:

3700 Dutton Rd Lease

Here is a copy of the Oakland Christian Church lease agreement:

Oakland Christian Church Lease

Here is a video of Mayor Barnett’s comments based on his discussion with West Bay Exploration Company:

 

 

Here is a link to a June 16th Oakland Press article regarding West Bay Exploration Company’s intention to pull out of area:

June 16, 2015 Oakland Press article

Here is a video of Mayor Barnett’s comments on how Rochester Hills has done everything they can to control drilling in their community, but has no authority to address the Oakland Township location.  This is a very good description of what the property owner and community challenges are on this issue.  It is 11 minutes long, but well worth the time to become familiar with this issue:

 

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  West Bay Exploration Company’s stated intentions may give Oakland Township an opportunity to ‘shore up’ our ordinances to the fullest extent allowed by law to protect our community from indiscriminate drilling.  Mr. Barnett indicated that the smaller communities, like Oakland Township, have fewer things they can do to protect their communities.  We trust that the Board will work with our Attorney, the Township Planner and our neighboring communities to come up with ordinance changes that maximize our control over these facilities.

We may have bought some time as a result of West Bay’s current position, but there are other oil drilling companies that may not have made the same decision.  Also, when the price of oil goes up, it may be financially advantageous for the oil drilling company to ‘renege’ on their stated current position.

It is hard to understand why West Bay would record their lease agreements with the County and only one month later, indicate that they have no intention of exercising them.  Let’s make sure Oakland Township takes advantage of West Bay’s stated decision by officially making a motion to place a short moratorium on drilling in Oakland Township, much like Rochester Hills and Shelby did, so we have time to work on our ordinances.

The balance between individual property rights and the welfare of the community is one that may pit neighbor against neighbor.  The Board must look at all the options and proactively deal with this issue before the oil drilling companies start operations near sensitive areas in our Township.  The current plan for linking the community water wells for many of the subdivisions in the Southwest portion of the Township could factor into what the Township does on drilling for oil and gas.

If you are a concerned about how Oakland Township handles this issue, please come to the June 23rd Oakland Township Board meeting at 7 PM.  The recent lease filings and West Bay’s announcement may be a ‘warning shot’ for Oakland Township.  Complacency is not appropriate at this time.  Trustee Bailey has asked that this issue be placed on the agenda for next Tuesday, so let’s support him.  Here is a copy of the agenda:

June 23, 2015 BOT agenda

Richard Michalski

Is Drilling for Oil and Gas coming to Oakland Township?

Shelby well rig (1)

Picture of Shelby Twp. drilling rig

Some of you may be aware of the struggles that our neighboring communities have had with Oil and Gas drilling activities.  Shelby Twp. and Rochester Hills are two of our closest neighbors that have been involved in that fight.  A recent filing by West Bay Explorations now may place Oakland Township in the fray.  

What follows is a link to the Don’t Drill the Hills (DDH) website that indicates that the property owner of 3700 Dutton Road made an agreement with West Bay Explorations on July 23, 2012.  The company has now filed the signed oil & gas lease agreement with the County allowing the company the right to put a well on that property.  This parcel is near Musson Elementary School in Oakland Township.  The residents of Oakland Township have not been involved in any discussions with the Township Board on this issue.  

The Board is finally considering changes to our Zoning Ordinance (Ordinance 16).  The citizens need to ensure that our leadership adequately protects us from undesirable wells in our community.

Here are excerpts from Don’t Drill the Hills website:

Don’t Drill The Hills has been actively watching for records filed with the county involving oil and gas leases. On May 11, 2015 West Bay Exploration filed with Oakland County an oil and gas lease which allows surface activities including drilling rigs, pipelines, access roads, and storage tanks on 18.82 acres at 3700 Dutton Rd, adjacent to Musson Elementary school. With a wellhead at this location West Bay can horizontally drill, using an “acid matrix stimulation” method up to two miles away.

If you are concerned about industrial activities being permitted in residential areas, you need to ACT NOW! DDH started warning residents over one year ago about the possibility of drilling activities in the area discussed today.  Contact your local officials, the DEQ, and your state legislature telling them you don’t support drilling near our schools and neighborhoods. The drilling has not yet started. The time to voice your concern is now… before the wells go in!

Here is the link to the website that disclosed this new filing in our community:

Link to “Don’t Drill the Hills” posting

Here is a copy of the Oil and Gas Lease that was agreed upon on July 23, 2012, but only recently filed with the County on May 11, 2015:

Oil and Gas Lease agreement

(click on image to enlarge it)

Here is a map showing the location of the property (the proposed well site is outlined in red):

3700 Dutton Rd Drill Site

(click on image to enlarge it)

Here is a link to a Channel 7 news broadcast pertaining to a well site in Shelby Township:

ABC news report on Shelby well site

Here is a link to a Channel 4 news broadcast pertaining to the well site in Shelby Township:

NBC news report on Shelby well site

The citizens of Oakland Township must demand that our Township Board protect our community from inappropriate drilling sites.  As they make changes to Ordinance 16, they must include wording that protects us to the fullest extent of the law.  A drilling site is capable of horizontally drilling under large acreage parcels, as well as homes and schools, to get to where they have obtained oil and gas access rights.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  Oakland Township has certainly had our share of issues since the new Board was elected in 2012.  The drilling issue may now be heating up to the point where citizen involvement is not only important, but essential to prevent the type of issues Rochester Hills and Shelby have had.  Proper legal wording in our Ordinances may plug some of the loopholes that have recently been created by our State Legislature on this matter.

I suggest that our Board set up a separate public meeting to discuss just this issue.  They should invite representatives from the Shelby Citizens Against Residential Drilling (CARD), and the Rochester Hills Don’t Drill the Hills group (DDH) to educate interested Oakland Township citizens, and Board and Parks Commission members on this subject.  The Board should also send letters to all Home Owner Associations informing them of the proposed meeting.

Fortunately, the Shelby CARD group is willing and able to aid our Township in establishing a group of informed and concerned citizens to help protect our Township using their many ‘lessons learned’.  Since they are a Township, they are familiar with the unique regulations controlling what Township’s can do as compared to cities.  We need to take advantage of their expertise and not ‘reinvent the wheel’.

Our community needs to ‘get out in front’ of this issue.  We also need to support our surrounding communities in their fight over this issue.

Richard Michalski

Is Detroit Water still an option for parts of Oakland Township?

At the May 26, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser announced that he planned two public meetings for citizens impacted by  the water supply systems that are being considered for two sections in Oakland Township.  One section is in the Southwest portion of the Township, and the other is in the Southeast portion of the Township.  Gonser announced the meetings would occur on June 18, 2015.  Treasurer Langlois thought the meetings were premature, and was opposed to having the meetings.  Trustee Giannangeli indicated that Detroit Water is still under consideration by the Township.  This option could result in water tap fees for the impacted citizens.  It was recently posted on the Township website that the meetings have been postponed.

During the May 26th meeting, Supervisor Gonser announced that:

  • high water towers are not being considered,
  • the ground water storage tanks will not be installed on parkland, and
  • Oakland Hunt would not be a subdivision included in the Southeast water district.

Gonser went on to say that there are two aspects to the water supply system issue.  Engineering issues are one.  He wanted to present this information at the June 18th meeting.  The other aspect is the legal, or operational, issues associated with the systems.

He indicated there are three legal options under consideration for the management and operation of the water supply facilities.  The three options are:

  1. continue as-is, but with the Township agreeing to a PA342 agreement with the County, where the Township would be responsible for part of the bonding of the system,
  2. have the Township form a Department of Public Works Department and take over the operation of the system, or
  3. contract with an outside company to have them maintain and operate the system.

Trustee Giannangeli also commented that Detroit City Water is still an option.

Treasurer Langlois commented that the June 18th meeting was premature since she felt the legal/operational matters needed to  be understood before going back to the citizens.

After the May 26th meeting, the Township website posted that Gonser’s announced June 18th meetings have been postponed.

Here is a map showing the proposed water system districts in Oakland Township (click on map to view larger version):

Proposed Water System Districts

Here is a link to a copy of a summary of the February 9, 2015 meeting held on this topic:

020915_OAT_Public_Meeting_Summary_final__1_

Here is a video of the discussions at the May 26th meeting:

 

Here are previously reported posts related to this topic.

Some Oakland Township residents may be entitled to a $2,500 refund from the Township

Oakland Township sued for over $4 million in Water Tap Fees

UPDATE: Oakland Township sued for over $4 (now $5) million in Water Tap Fees

Supervisor Gonser announces Township plans for water treatment and water storage facilities

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Trustee Giannangeli’s comment raises an issue regarding potential costs to the residents impacted in the two water district sections of the Township.  The Board had previously decided that Oakland Township would not use Detroit Water, and as a result refunded several million dollars in water tap fees to (primarily) developers who paid for future connects to the Detroit water system.  Since that money was returned to (primarily) developers, if the Township now decides to have Detroit water, the private homeowners impacted may have to pay a water tap fee.  Some of those homeowners may have understood that any future water tap fee to the Detroit system was already included in the purchase price of their home.  They may now be faced with paying for it a second time.

It appears Treasurer Langlois, who is a member of the water system subcommittee (along with Giannangeli and Gonser), was surprised that the June 18th meeting was being announced.  Gonser’s decision to announce the meeting is yet another example of him overstepping his authority and making a decision without subcommittee and Board approval.

RIchard Michalski