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Residents question possible gas drilling in city

February 28, 2014 News Extra

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Five city residents told city council Thursday night about their concerns over the city’s interest in marking oil and gas rights for city property.

The city last month entered into an agreement to have the Dick Landowners Group of Central City market nearly 90 acres to drilling companies.

Most of that land is around Memorial Park.

“I hope the city doesn’t jump on short term profit for a long term burden and loss,” said Karen Pletsch, who expressed concerns over the safety of fracking, which is a method of pumping natural gas out of the ground.

Pletsch said she moved to Butler after spending 27 years in Massachusetts.

“Butler was rated the seventh most desirable place to live,” she said, referencing a 2012 ranking of small towns by the Smithsonian Magazine. “I came here thinking it was a good deal.”

The Feb. 11 gas well explosion in Greene County was a major concern for most of the speakers. That explosion killed one worker, injured another and burned out of control for about a week before it was capped.

“What will happen to the homeowners’ property values if something goes wrong?” asked Suzie Bradrick.

The residents also asked for answers about the safety of a gas well close to schools and businesses as well as an increase in truck traffic that would come because of the well.

“Before I was somewhat indifferent about fracking,” Bradrick said. “I didn’t think us city folks had anything to be worried about.”

Council did not respond to the questions or comments during the meeting. Mayor Tom Donaldson said before the residents spoke that the “persons to be heard” portion of the meeting is just for public comments, not discussion of issues.

Council assured the residents that there would be a public meeting if a driller makes a proposal to the city.

“If we find someone interested, we will have a public meeting for all concerned citizens,” said Cheri Scott, who introduced the motion last month to market the land. “If the time comes, we’ll address any concerns.”

Scott said representatives from the Dick Landowners Group also would be at that meeting to present the most accurate information.

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