West Bloomfield Officials Ban Drilling for a Six-month Period
Local officials say they are bound by state law limiting oil and natural gas drilling.
Over the next six months, the West Bloomfield Township officials will work to drill out an ordinance restricting oil and natural gas drilling.
The township board of trustees voted unanimously at Monday night's meeting to enact a six-month moratorium on drilling operations, which should allow for enough time to fully understand the consequences of state laws which restrict local governments on the issue.
The moratorium will run from Sept. 1 through Feb. 28. However, a developer may request a public hearing from the township in order to explain hardship or a violation of state and federal laws.
The issue initially came before the board in May. At a state auction of drilling rights, Jordan Development of Traverse City purchased much of the available 18,347 acres in Oakland County, including land surrounded by that which is currently owned by the township, private property owners, or other institutions.
Trustee Gene Farber, a public member of the state Advisory Committee to the Oil and Gas Supervisor of Wells, said that the state legislature worked to take away power from local governments in passing the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act.
A letter dated Aug. 15 by township attorney Derk Beckerleg explained that township officials cannot ban drilling under the act. However, the board may explore ways to make it easier for residents, by regulating hours of operation, use of roads, and, notably, its wetlands.