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Investigator Exclusive: Company wants to drill gas well next to school

2:53 PM, Jun 10, 2010   |    comments
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The well would be drilled on property adjacent to Mayfield Middle School and would be located roughly 100 feet from the Mayfield City School District offices and 267 feet from the school building, according to the permit filed by Seagull Development Corp. and school officials.

The state is reviewing the permit even though Mayfield Heights police have yet to complete their criminal investigation of Seagull in connection with allegations of tampering and forgery of a lease application.

According to a police report obtained by Channel 3 News, two homeowners accused Seagull of forging their signatures on a lease for the Stonecreek well. The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation completed a preliminary investigation that concluded the signatures were possibly traced by another person, said Mayfield Heights Mayor Gregory Costabile.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which reviews permits, said there is no state law allowing them to deny a permit based on suspicion of a crime.

Meanwhile, the Mayfield City Schools superintendent said he would write a letter to the state urging them to deny Seagull's application due to safety concerns.

"As a school district, we are against gas well drilling within close proximity to our middle school, district administrative offices and a stream which is used for students' environmental studies," said Superintendent Phillip Price.

Seagull owner Lynn Strazi declined to comment, referring questions to his attorney.

The attorney issued a statement saying: "Seagull was not part of any illegal activity. We think this was an effort to curtail the application process. Seagull has complied with all applications ... and they have an unblemished safety record over 25 years."     

At least 53 homeowners in the Stonecreek development are listed as leaseholders who sold their mineral rights to Seagull for the gas and oil well. The attorney, however, said that more than 70 homeowners are part of the deal.

WKYC-TV

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