Company wants Middleton to pave way for drillers

NEGLEY – A road bond has been drafted by Middleton Township for a local company wanting to sell water to drilling companies.

Township trustees said they put together the proposed bond with the help of the county engineer’s office and their prosecutor, Andy Beech.

Trustees began considering bonding Carmel-Achor and possibly Jackman roads last month after XL Sand and Gravel owners said they wanted to sell water to drilling companies from their Jackman Road location.

The owners, Mike and Kristen Lansberry, said they cannot sell water unless a road use maintenance agreement (RUMA) is in place, and they believed that requirement is keeping drilling companies from showing an interest in the township.

The business already sells water from its state Route 170 location, and is allowed to do so since RUMAs are not required for state roads.

The agreements are to ensure that those using the roads for hauling of drilling-related material are financially responsible for any wear and tear caused by the additional weight and frequency of traffic.

A RUMA is different than a bond, although they serve the same general purpose, and Trustee Greg Lipp suggested the bond over a RUMA at last month’s meeting in which the Lansberrys voiced their concerns.

The draft bond has not been looked over by the Lansberrys yet and when contacted Kristin Lansberry said they did not wish to comment until they had a chance to go over the details.

Lipp said the draft is very “generic” at this point and no dollar amount has been stipulated.

A road may be bonded for a certain amount to ensure it is maintained or repaired by those responsible for specific traffic.

In other business at last week’s meeting, trustees approved:

– Submitting two mobile homes to the Moving Ohio Forward Program. The county was recently awarded just under $28,000 in additional funding through the attorney general’s office. The program funds the demolition of blighted homes.

– Applying for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the final phase of the Negley storm sewer system project. The four-phase project began in 1991 and the most recent phase was completed in 2007. Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman said the final phase will consist of the installation of catch basins in the southeast corner of the village, south of state Route 154 and then east toward the former grade school. The township is seeking $80,000 in funding and a 10 percent match is required. So far the township project has cost roughly $150,000, he said.

– Sending a letter to Gov. John Kasich showing their support of the distribution of severance tax revenue.

“It’s our roads that are going to take a beating and we need those funds,” Lipp said.

Politicians in communities across eastern Ohio are encouraging the state to distribute the money back to their areas to put toward the infrastructure necessary to handle the influx of development from oil and gas exploration in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays.

Michaels announced a Verizon cell phone tower was recently installed on Quay Road and should be in operation soon. The process to have a cell phone tower began about six years ago, before Verizon and Alltel merged, and Chapman said the merger resulted in a delay.

“They told us in 2012 it would be done in 2013,” he said.

Former Trustee Eldena Gearthart contacted the company in late 2013 urging them to move forward with the installation, which was completed soon after, he added.