Oil drilling upsets residents in Shelby Township

Backyard oil drilling? It doesn't sound like the ideal attraction in any neighborhood.

But for some Shelby Township residents, that's exactly what they are getting after an oil rig company decidedly set up shop only hundreds of feet from some front doors – 450 feet to be exact.

Residents along with city officials plan to fight this neighborhood eye sore, but it's a  race against the clock as oil could begin pumping at any time.

"I'm livid beyond description," said Jim Mattison, a Shelby Township resident who lives near the rig. "I want the state to come in like the calvary because we need some help here."

In only a matter of minutes, the oil rig was brought in and set up just behind the Creekside Subdivision. It's a quick solution to a long-term problem, as homeowners now fear a decrease in the value of their homes, an increase in environmental and health hazards and a water catastrophe. Not to mention, the constant noise heard throughout the entire neighborhood.

However, the building of the rig is perfectly legal, and there are even security guards on the lot supervising the property so people don't get too close.

As long as the rig is 450 feet from each residence and the landowner or home builder releases the mineral rights, the department of environmental quality gives their permission to start drilling. One site is just 460 feet away from the Shelby Township attorney's home and also at the borderline of Rochester Hills, which is another city afraid of being on the list to receive oil rigs.

State lawmakers have paved the way to allow for the drilling of natural resources, all while overpowering local governments when having any say in whether oil and gas companies will drill in certain areas.

"Communities have no say-so, so this could have lasting effects on our community for decades with no input from residents or local government," said Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis. "That's why the state law needs to be changed."

Residents are arranging an emergency town hall meeting to get answers from West Bay Exploration, the company responsible for setting up the oil rigs. However, West Bay claims they don't know if they will be in attendance.

In the meantime, the company is beginning to map out Birmingham and Bloomfield Township with hopes of scoping out oil and gas and plan other potential work sites.

The emergency town hall meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Palazzo Grande Banquet Center on Van Dyke Road.

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