Hundreds voice frustrations over Shelby Township oil drilling

Town hall meeting had to be moved to large banquet center

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. - There were so many people so incredibly upset about an oil well blooming up overnight in an upscale Shelby Township neighborhood that a town hall meeting on the issue had to be moved to a large banquet center.

Related: Oil drilling upsets residents in Shelby Township

Hundreds of people turned out to voice their frustrations.

"My husband and I are out walking back there and we hear this clang and boom, and they're talking about how we don't have noise? We looked up and were astounded," said Rita Mahfet.

West Bay Oil owns the oil drilling operation and are doing everything legally and have all the required state permits.

Michigan law on the books since the 1940s allows for residential oil drilling as long as the well and derrick are 450 feet away from homes.

West Bay's representative said it's not clear whether the well will yield any oil but will know soon.

Already the derrick, which is the large cage like structure, is going to be moved off the property shortly. If oil is found and the well is in use, the apparatus will be about the height of a basketball hoop and the noise will cease.

Neighbors don't want anything there period. Shelby Township attorney Rob Huth, who also suddenly had a view of the oil rig from his window, said the township will do everything it can to mitigate the complaints.

"Residents are shocked, family members are upset and the fact is, going forward, we have to get our arms around it so this doesn't happen again," Huth said.

State Rep. Pete Lund (R-Shelby Township) is going to try to change the rules up in Lansing, which is where the real power to monitor and place these wells is.

"I have no problem with drilling, and what they are doing here is perfectly legal but it's also wrong," Lund said. "If they wanted to drill in an industrial area, or perhaps just in the daytime that's fine, but it's wrong to drill so close to homes and make noise when families are trying to sleep, when babies are trying to sleep. It's just wrong the way they're acting."

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