Local residents oppose drilling in their neighborhoods

8:37 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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BROADVIEW HEIGHTS -- Michelle Aini no longer allows her six-year-old son to play in the backyard of their Broadview Heights home because of what sits just 600 feet away from them - an oil and gas well.

"It breaks my heart," Aini says. "[The well] just showed up. I had no choice in it whatsoever."

Aini lives in Broadview Heights, a community that has seen a dramatic rise in oil and gas wells since Ohio House Bill 278 was passed in 2004. In all, there are about 90 wells.

While some residents lease their land for oil and gas drilling and the royalties that come with it, others have to deal with the consequences of unwelcomed wells.

Louie Chodkiewicz lives near six wells in Broadview Heights, none of which he wanted. But because of a law in Ohio, mandatory pooling, he didn't have a choice in the matter.

The law allows oil companies to drill a well within 150 feet of someone's property line if the majority of neighbors want a well.

"As an American, I treasure the freedom to own property," Chodkiewicz  says. "Yet, I see it ripped from our souls. It's demoralizing."

Several of the wells near Chodkiewicz are owned by Doug Gonzalez, of GonzOil.

"I understand his frustration," Gonzalez says. "He's living in an urban area and probably the last thing he ever envisioned is he would have an oil and gas well in his backyard."

But Gonzalez is in his full right to drill in urban settings, as long as he receives proper permitting from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Aini believes Ohio law needs to be changed to curb the amount of drilling in residential areas.

"I am not against drilling. I am not naive to the fact that we need drilling here in the Untied States," she explains.  "My concern is the fact that drilling has its time and place and its place is not in literally backyards."

To that end, Aini has formed Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods and put a Bill of Rights on the Broadview Heights ballot to help bring back local control of oil and gas wells.

"When the well went in, my home doesn't feel like a home anymore," she says.


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