Newcastle council votes on required distance between drill sites and homes

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NEWCASTLE, Okla. - A fight over how close a oil drill sites can be to homes progressed toward a conclusion Thursday night in a special meeting of Newcastle City Council.

The dispute began when Derrick Lea, a Newcastle homeowner, pushed back against a drill site proposed on his neighbor’s land. He argues it’s closer than the city’s ordinance allows.

Last summer, the city council changed its ordinance to double the distance a drill site must be from nearby protected properties, including homes, churches, and school buildings. The distance went from 300 feet to 660 feet.

But recently, problems have arisen with the ordinance, the wording leaving too much room for interpretation. Now two pending site plans hang in the balance, waiting for clarity from city council.

So on Thursday, the city council met, once again tasked with balancing the desires of some property owners who wish to drill on their property, and their neighbors who don’t want the activity and sounds of a drill site in their backyard.

In the end, the council voted four to one on a clearer definition of the ordinance. The amendments explain that the measurement will begin at the bore hole, and end at least 660 feet from the structure, and 300 feet from the property line. It would also require that the edge of the pad site must be 460 feet from the structure.

But Lea insists it’s still not far enough to address the noise, and is prepared to continue the fight.

Mayor Gene Reid said it’s unclear how the ordinance voted on Thursday night will apply to the two proposals that are pending.

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