Residents sorting out RUMA rumors

NEGLEY – Chesapeake Energy has not sought a new road use maintenance agreement (RUMA) in Middleton Township but has applied for a permit for a new well, Township Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman said Monday.

Residents Ray and Tracy Barrow turned out for the trustee meeting to say they were trying to verify whether a RUMA had been requested. The Barrows were wondering if what they heard was a rumor, and residents Tom and Susan Cunningham also said they had heard the same.

Chapman said that is not the case, but that the township received a letter from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) about a month ago advising that Chesapeake applied for a permit to drill an oil and gas well on township property, specifically, in section 11, which is in the vicinity of Negley, and accessible from state Route 170.

“There was no indication of a RUMA to be issued,” he said.

He added that according to the map, that property is owned by either Mike and Kristen Lansberry or a Mr. Twaddle.

The property is not yet listed on the ODNR website’s records of permitted and drilled wells. According to that site, there are five locations in the township the ODNR has already approved for drilling in the Utica Shale by Chesapeake, and of those only the well at the Carney property has been drilled at this point.

The other four are permitted for drilling.

Chapman said XL Family Ventures or Family Trust was listed on the most recent permit application. The Lansberrys are owners of XL Sand and Gravel, which already sells water to companies for use in the drilling process.

Township trustees recently agreed to allow the business to sell water from its Jackman Road location. The business is also located on state Route 170 and has been selling water from that location. Approval was not required as that is a state route and a road use maintenance agreement is not required for state roads.

Trustees were not necessarily acting on the sale of water, but rather, the use of Carmel Achor and Jackman roads by the trucks hauling the water.

RUMAs are typically required for locally owned roads prior to use by those involved in the oil and gas drilling process, as the vehicles are usually carrying heavy loads and travel frequently to and from well sites.

The agreements ensure the companies using the roads are responsible for their maintenance and the repair of any damage caused once travel ceases.

Trustees said Monday they learned a RUMA or road bond cannot be required for water hauling and they are now requesting of the Lansberrys that any vehicle traffic for the water hauling must abide by the posted weight limits, including the 50 percent load reduction in effect between Nov. 1 and April 30.

Any vehicles over the weight limit would need to apply for the necessary permit, they added.

The Lansberrys were not at the meeting and have not yet heard from trustees about that request, and Chapman said he or another township official would notify them immediately.

Susan Cunningham, who attended the meeting to ask about the new tower on Quay Road, said the Lansberrys have taken good care of Carmel Achor road in that area.

“I go past XL twice a day every day, and they do a great job taking care of the road as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Trustees then told her the tower is a new Verizon cell phone tower and should be operational within a month.

In other business trustees approved:

– Ray Barrow as seasonal mower beginning April 13 through Oct. 25, hours to vary, pay at approximately $13 per hour.

– Submitted roughly 9.2 miles of roads to the Columbiana County Engineer’s office for inclusion in their annual summer chip and seal program. Roads listed were Echo Dell, for two coats of material from the township entrance to Beaver Creek State Park to Leslie Run, Union Ridge, Scotts Mill Road, Carmel Achor, Riffle Road, Dyke Road and Yeager. Trustees are hoping to be reimbursed for money spent on the previous chip and seal, which has been wearing away from roads locally and elsewhere in the county. The engineer’s office is currently studying the roads affected to see what caused the problem. Chapman said if reimbursement is not given some roads will be removed from the chip and seal list as the township cannot fund all 9.2 miles.

– Participating in the Ohio Natural Gas purchasing program through the Ohio Department of Administrative Services. The program is a one-year obligation and the township is already contracted with the department for its full range of services. The contract costs $100 annually. The township previously purchased gas through NiSource and Chapman said the new program is expected to save them eight percent on their bills, which average $200 to $300 for heating of the township road garage.

– Purchasing six Amish buggy signs at a cost of $68 per sign, two road closed signs at approximately $50 each and 10 10-foot posts at approximately $15 a piece, with money to come out of the road fund.

– Purchasing 500 tons of ash and 200 tons of limestone, with hauling by Ed Wilson trucking at a rate of $5.75 per ton for the ash and $4.50 per ton for the limestone.

– A resolution of support for a set aside of any Ohio severance tax, with at least 50 percent of the revenue dedicated to counties directly affected by gas and oil drilling.