NEGLEY - Middleton Township's approval or denial of road use maintenance agreements (RUMAs) with Chesapeake Energy has no effect on landowners' royalty payments, trustees said.
Trustees have fielded questions from some residents concerned that if the RUMAs are not approved, or are delayed, it will keep them from receiving royalty payments from the Oklahoma-based oil and gas exploration company.
The agreements require companies involved in the preparing and operation of drill sites to upgrade and maintain the roads being used to get to the sites and to resurface them when drilling is completed.
Marlene and Jack Shaffer, Echo Dell Road, had asked trustees why they are "making it so difficult on Chesapeake," and noted that "people want and need their royalties."
Trustees said the agreements have no effect on the royalty payments and that they are working with Chesapeake to make sure the roads are properly maintained.
They also explained that the RUMA for Scotts Mill Road was delayed because language in the agreement called for the township's road crew to be on call for maintenance of the road in the event that Chesapeake is unable. They said that with only two full-time men, the road department did not have the manpower and ability to do that and requested it be amended to read the crew would be responsible "at their discretion."
The RUMA was approved on Oct. 1, and the board canceled a RUMA for Justison Road that same day.
Chesapeake wants Justison Road to access a planned oil and gas well on the Benner property nearby, but trustees said they don't want the company to use the road unless it agrees to provide a plan for the maintenance and repair prior to any drilling activity in that area. Another stipulation was that the company blacktop the road instead of chip and seal as the agreement called for.
The board canceled the agreement after the being displeased with the condition of Vale Road and how long Chesapeake was taking to have it resurfaced. The company uses roughly seven-tenths of a mile of the road to get to a well and water impoundment site. The board told field representative Brett Bankert it would not approve any future agreements until Vale Road was chipped and sealed as planned.
Chesapeake performed the road work recently.
As of Nov. 10 Chesapeake has drilled two horizontal wells in the township and a third has been permitted, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
In other business, trustees approved on Monday:
-Paying bills in the amount of $3,592.75.
-Accepting a $10 bid from trustee Nancy Michaels for 10 chairs previously used in the road garage.
-Paying Ken's Tree Service $2,500 to trim and clear trees from Carmel Achor, Quay, Echo Dell, Riffle, Pancake Clarkson West roads, and possibly a portion of Tomahawk Road.
- Ordering 14 signs for seven railroad crossings. The signs will be paid for through grant funding awarded through the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
- Joining the Whitaker Myers Insurance Group for general, liability, auto, fire, and public official liability coverage from Dec. 1 through Nov. 30, 2013. Fiscal Officer Bob Chapman said joining the group will save the township roughly $3,500 a year.
- Selling the 1970 Cleveland Road Grader to Feezle Auto Wrecking for $1,600.
The board then entered into executive session to discuss leasing property for oil and gas rights. No action was taken.