Newcastle city council votes to approve drill site considered too close by neighbor

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NEWCASTLE, Okla. - An ongoing struggle between neighbors over where you can drill on your own property came to a conclusion after city council voted to approve two proposed drill sites in contention Monday night. However, one man says the fight isn’t over.

Last summer, Newcastle city council changed an ordinance doubling the length a well must be from a protected-use property to 660-feet. Then in February, city council was forced to revisit and revise the ordinance after two proposed well sites were called into question.

One neighbor, Derrick Lea, said the proposed drill site is too close according to the city’s own rules. On Monday, he told city councilors that was still the case, even after their latest revision.

But city council went with a measurement previously taken by a surveyor, which puts the proposed site one foot farther than the required distance.

“I don’t think they’re doing what’s right,” Lea said. “They did everything in their power to work with this oil field company…to put this drilling site right there."

Mayor Gene Reid said it was a tough decision, weighing the wants of land owners trying to profit from their mineral rights, and those of their neighbors who don't want the noise and activity associated with a well site so close to their homes.

"It’ll implicate the city in its liability if we go one direction, it’ll affect a resident if we go the other direction," Reid said in the meeting.

In the end, he said they had to make the best decision for the city. Both proposed sites passed with four votes with one council member absent.

As part of the approval, city council required extra sound barriers from the site, hospital-grade mufflers, and extra signage to direct oil traffic down a safer route.

"We have about 100 people in here tonight, we have 9,900 more wanting us to make decisions to make sure we do everything we can to mitigate noise," Reid said.

After tonight's decision, Lea said he plans to file an injunction on the well site.

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