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Ohio Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal from Munroe Falls

By Bob Downing Published: June 20, 2013

The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from Summit County on whether local governments have any say in gas-oil drilling, according to the People's Oil and Gas Collaborative, a grass-roots group that has been following the case..

The case — it is being watched closely across Ohio by both sides — involves the city of Munroe Falls and Ravenna-based Beck Energy Corp.

The key question is whether oil and gas well drillers must follow city ordinances or whether state control takes precedence over local home rule.

Beck Energy got a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to drill on private property off Munroe Falls Avenue in Munroe Falls in early 2011.

When the drilling began, the city issued a stop-work order and filed a lawsuit. The city claimed Beck’s activities were illegal because the company did not comply with city ordinances that required Beck to obtain a city drilling permit, pay an application fee, get a zoning certificate and right-of-way construction permits and post a performance bond.

The state sided with Beck, which refused to apply for the permits. Natural Resources said it had given the company permission to drill a gas well and that was all the documentation needed.

In 2011, Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands ruled Beck Energy Corp. needed to follow city rules required of all developers, which included paying application fees and acquiring a performance bond.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Rowlands’ decision last February.

The appeals court stopped the city from enforcing parts of its permit process. The city can only enforce its rules on excavation and rights-of-way, the appeals court said,

Munroe Falls is concerned that local communities have no control on drilling operations in Ohio.

That’s because the Ohio Legislature in 2004 took local control on drilling away from local communities and gave sole authority to Natural Resources.

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Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

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