UPDATE: After deciding the current ordinance leaves too much room for interpretation, the Newcastle City Council continued the decision on whether to allow drilling at the planned site. In the next couple weeks, councilmembers will meet to decide where exactly the “separation boundary” should be, whether it’s the property line, the specific building or “protected property” in question, or something else. Then they will take up the specific sites whose fates are still in question.
NEWCASTLE, Okla. – Back in June, the Newcastle City Council changed ordinances to prevent drill sites being too close to private property. Monday night at a city council meeting, one resident said it’s time for the city council to do the right thing and uphold those laws.
“Now, here’s their chance to go by the ordinance that they wrote,” said Derrick Lea.
The Newcastle resident cited the new rules passed back in June that require oil companies keep further back from private homes and separation boundaries for those homes.
Lea lives on an acreage in the northwest corner of Newcastle. He claims the drill site that is being proposed next to his property is not the necessary 660 ft from his fence line and not even the proper distance from his home.
Lea said he has paid for his own land surveys that show the drilling pad is clearly in violation.
Back in January, the Newcastle Planning Commission sent the drilling proposal on to the city council, saying they need clarification of the new ordinances.
“They are open to interpretation, so that is what our council is going to do tonight – to look at one specific piece of the the separation boundary,” said Kevin Self, Newcastle city manager.
But, Lea said there is no need for clarification – the city needs to do the right thing.
“We depend on them to protect us in situations like this from big oil companies, big people that come in here trying to push their weight around, and I’m a firm believer of what’s right is right,” he said.
Lea claims the site is so close to the H.E. Bailey Turnpike that the oil company is trying to encroach on his land to make the site work.
“They are crammed up in there so close that, if they go any more to the west or the north, it be impossible to put the pad in the drill site,” he said.
Lea said he is putting it on the city council to make sure his property is protected for him and his family
“They are clearly not protecting us if they don’t do the right thing,” he said.
The meeting set for 6 p.m. on Monday at the Newcastle Public Library.