Murrysville ordinance would pave way for referendum petition
By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Published: Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, 12:39 p.m.
By mid-April, Murrysville residents likely will be able to begin circulating a petition to force referendum vote on leasing the gas rights under Murrysville Community Park.
Council voted last week to advertise an ordinance that would put those rights out to public bid. Once that ordinance is adopted — a vote is set for mid-April — residents can begin collecting signatures on a petition to create a referendum question regarding potential leases on the November ballot.
“(Residents) can't start getting signatures until after we approve the ordinance,” Councilman Dave Perry said. “We want a citizen's group to run with this right now to start education and start getting prepared. We want to give as much notice as possible — we don't want anyone to be surprised on this.”
The ordinance directs Chief Administrator Jim Morrison to solicit bids for the gas rights under 260-acres of the park, which is located along Wiestertown Road.
Officials last month said Monroeville-based Huntley & Huntley offered $2,250 per acre for the right to drill under the park plus 12.5 percent of the royalties garnered from selling any gas from the property. The company has acquired hundreds of acres of property near the park, which is in the municipal drilling district.
Under the municipal home rule charter, residents are permitted to circulate a petition regarding any ordinance that council enacts, said Solicitor George Kotjarapoglus. Council can review that petition and change its mind on the ordinance, or the petition can be submitted to the county to place a referendum question on the November ballot, he said.
The municipality isn't permitted to take the lead on any referendum, Kotjarapoglus said. However, officials can offer education on the issue.
Morrison said he plans to do just that but isn't sure of the best way. Resident Linda Marts agreed.
“I feel that the majority of the citizens of Murrysville have no clue what this really would entail,” said Marts, who has expressed interest in circulating a petition. “We have a lot of young families with busy kids in all kinds of activities. I don't think they see the big picture. I think there's a large portion of people who think that it's all about the money.”
Marts suggested the municipality organize several buses to take residents to Washington County to see Marcellus shale drilling in person. She urged officials to not be intimidated by drillers.
“I want you all to be brave and not be afraid to be challenged by the gas and oil industry,” Marts said.
Morrison said one problem is that people don't understand that it isn't a question of permitting drilling, but whether the park will be involved.
“This isn't a drilling issue as much as it is a leasing issue,” Morrison said. “As much as it may be distasteful to people, the reality is that drilling is going to occur some time, somewhere in Murrysville.”
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Murrysville chief: I’m glad it wasn’t a firearm
- Investigation continues to search for motive for knife attack at Franklin Regional
- Anti-bully program has been in place at FR schools since 2009