City: Just plug the gas well

The City of Warren will not seek settlement against a gas well drilled by Timothy Koebley on Warren south’s side, but it will inform the state Department of Environmental Protection that it support the agency’s order to seal the well.

Since city council’s last meeting, an appeal to the DEP filed by Koebley has been withdrawn and the appeal filed with Common Pleas Court in Warren against the City of Warren Zoning Hearing Board’s denial of a variance for the well has been discontinued.

“We’re at a point now where both the appeals are not currently in effect, and I have not heard specifically any action Mr. Koebley is taking or attempting to take,” City Solicitor Andrea Stapleford said at council’s meeting Monday evening.

The DEP had given Koebley a certain amount of time to re-permit or plug the well and “he didn’t do either, he just appealed that decision from DEP,” Stapleford said.

“I believe we can make a motion at this point to allow the DEP sealing order to occur and stop any further negotiations at this point, which I would prefer to do. I’ll make a motion that the well be sealed,” Councilman John Lewis said.

“We have an illegal well operating in an illegal place,” he said. “It needs to be sealed. That’s the decision we need to come to, that’s what the motion says.”

Mayor Mark Phillips asked whether the motion would just duplicate something the city has already done.

“I think we’re re-enforcing the fact that we’re not interested in any kind of settlement talks with them, or supporting them in any kind of settlement talks and that we want the well plugged,” Councilman Maurice Cashman said. “Don’t come to us for any settlement talks. Just proceed to plug the well and that’s what we desire because where you have it is illegal, it’s not to be there, we’re not condoning it. Please plug it and go away.”

Council unanimously approved the motion.

Council also approved funding requests for 2014 from a number of local organizations, including Paws Along the River Humane Society for $6,000; the Transit Authority of Warren County for $7,500; the Warren County Historical Society for $1,000; Warren Area Student Union for $1,000; and the Garden Club for $1,2000.

Stapleford also told council there is an individual interested in taking ownership of the property at 117 Beaty St.

The residence was the site of a murder-suicide in 2009 involving the owners of the property.