A group of Monroeville residents has drafted an ordinance that places strict limits on oil and gas activity within the municipality and called on council to enact it.
Sustainable Monroeville and Food & Water Watch, both environmental advocacy groups, drafted the 21-page ordinance that tightens up rules surrounding oil and gas development, said Lois Drumheller of Sustainable Monroeville.
The ordinance, in part, sanctions oil and gas activity to M-2 industrial zoning districts, places a 2,500-foot setback on all structures, sets a minimum of 10 acres for all land intended to be used for oil and gas development, and requires operators to conduct pre- and post-drilling tests of nearby water, soil and air.
Monroeville resident David Mintz has asked council when representatives of council and Sustainable Monroeville could meet to discuss the group’s ordinance and when the group could expect a vote to advertise it.
Mayor Nick Gresock said “perhaps” members of council, the solicitor and members from Sustainable Monroeville could meet to discuss the particulars of the ordinance before October’s meeting.
Manager Tim Little said it would need to undergo a review by the municipal solicitor, Bob Wratcher. After that, he said, the planning commission would review it.
“And it gets to council’s bench, so to speak, and a public hearing has to be held. And then it needs to be advertised and a public hearing,” Little said, adding a second public hearing is only necessary when there are substantial amendments made to proposed ordinances.
The group’s proposal comes nearly two years after council updated its zoning ordinance, which previously allowed oil and gas activity in every zoning district as a conditional use.
The ordinance, passed in October 2017, limited oil and gas drilling to M-2 industrial zoning district as a conditional use.
Three months later, council presented another ordinance that limited all oil and gas development to a 150-acre special conservancy zoning district, where a Waste Management landfill is located. The ordinance included regulations for operations such as compressor stations, well pads, impoundments and other activities.
Council later voted unanimously to withdraw the proposed ordinance after residents complained it invited fracking by accommodating companies that might want to develop wells on the landfill property – namely, Huntley & Huntley, a gas developer based in Monroeville. The company has a lease agreement at the Waste Management property.
Huntley & Huntley has said it has no plans to drill at the Monroeville landfill.
Council’s move meant the municipality’s zoning law reverted back to the one enacted in October 2017 that limited the activity to industrial zoning districts.
There are three such districts in Monroeville. They include an area of the near Broadway Boulevard (Rt. 130), Mosside Boulevard (Rt. 48) and an area near the Parkway East, Rt. 22 and Thompson Run Road.