The efforts of our Township Board to control the location of oil and gas drilling operations in Oakland Township may be impacted by a memo from the Michigan DEQ. The DEQ’s position is in response to a request from Supervisor Gonser. As you may recall, Supervisor Gonser was opposed to moving forward with the Ordinance at the January BOT meeting. The outcome of Oakland Township’s proposed Ordinance may be in jeopardy.
As previously reported on this website, the Oakland Township Board is considering an Ordinance to control the location of Oil and Gas drilling in Oakland Township. A second reading of that Ordinance is schedule for the February 9, 2016 Board meeting. Supervisor Gonser had previously expressed concerns over the Township’s authority to control oil and gas drilling. He voted against moving forward with the draft ordinance. He contacted the DEQ and asked for their input. Mr. Harold Fitch, the Assistant Supervisor of wells and Chief office of Oil and Gas & Minerals responded by saying:
“As demonstrated by the definitions (in the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act), the DEQ considers a broad range of operations as subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supervisor of wells and not subject to regulations by Township’s or Counties.”
He basically is saying we, as a Township, do not have any control over the location or operation of oil and gas drilling in our Township.
Here is a copy of his entire response to Supervisor Gonser’s request:
Other communities have been struggling with this issue. Townships have less control over oil and gas drilling operations than cities. However, Rochester Hills has been involved in recent disputes over their authority to control drilling in their city. More recently, Southfield has been dealing with this issue. Here are two current links to the Southfield issue:
Here is a copy of our draft ordinance:
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? Oakland Township may not have much control over oil and gas drilling in our community. However, we should pursue as much control as possible within the constraints of the law. At the January BOT meeting, our Township attorney and planning consultants both agreed with what is being proposed in the draft ordinance. I trust that Supervisor Gonser’s requested input from the DEQ does not change their position on the proposed ordinance.
So what can we do:
- Attend the February 9, 2016 Board meeting to express your opinion after listening to the discussion by our Township Attorney, Planning Consultant and Board members.
- If not able to attend the February 9th meeting, watch the proceedings on the Township website, or Comcast cable channel, to learn more about this issue.
- Contact your State representatives (Michael Webber <firstname.lastname@example.org> or Brad Jacobsen <email@example.com>) asking them to support Representative Moss’ bill allowing more local control over oil and gas drilling locations.