Oakmont council sets oil and gas well restrictions for the borough
Oakmont council adopted an ordinance with more stringent regulations than the state when it comes to oil and gas wells.
State regulations for wells require a 500-foot minimum setback from protected structures, such as an occupied home or school, and a 300-foot setback from the Allegheny River.
Oakmont’s ordinance, which was adopted via 5-1 vote Monday night, restricts setbacks from protected structures to 2,000 feet and maintains the setback distance from the river.
Councilman Tim Favo dissented. Justin Lokay had resigned from the elected board and his constituents have not yet appointed their seventh member.
Favo said state restrictions would have been sufficient.
“I was very happy when we did our first measurements and (found) out if we did the state minimums, you would not be able to drill here, which I think was everyone’s goal,” Favo said. “I’m not in favor of the way the gas ordinance was written because I felt that we’re opening ourselves up to being accused of being exclusionatory.”
Council worked on the ordinance for more than a year with amendments and input from the planning commission and Allegheny County officials. Multiple residents pushed for the 2,000-foot setback restriction.
“The ordinance that was passed took into consideration the comments made by the residents,” council President William Benusa said. “The process was long and arduous, but we feel we have a very fair ordinance in place that will help defend the borough’s position against gas drilling within the borough.”
Council had a public hearing on the ordinance Monday night prior to the vote. Resident Ron Slabe was the only audience member who spoke.
“I think this goes a long way and it’s been a long time coming,” Slabe said. “It protects the people of Oakmont and I urge (council) to support it and vote ‘Yes.’”
Council received a round of applause from attendees after the ordinance adoption.
The 27-page document is posted on the front page of the borough’s website and available for review at the borough office, 767 Fifth Ave.
Oakmont is 1.8 square miles of mostly densely-populated residential areas. Its industrial area is near the Allegheny River and light industrial is by Creek Side Park.
The borough has two conventional wells in Riverside Park, one in Dark Hollow Woods and one in Falling Springs.
The ordinance exempts borough property from zoning prohibition on conventional oil and gas wells in residential districts.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .