LISBON -If Village Council wants to get into the Marcellus shale game, it will have to do so on its own instead of joining with a landowners' group.
Village Solicitor Virginia Barborak told council at this week's meeting a preliminary review of the
law seems to indicate they would have to seek competitive bidding if they wanted to lease village property to a Marcellus shale driller.
Vince Hoover of the Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley approached the village in January at the request of Councilman Joe Morenz to determine if there was any interest in joining with the group to secure a drilling lease.
The landowners' group represents property owners with more than 37,000 acres in six counties. The group hopes by joining together they can negotiate a drilling lease that provides maximum benefits and protection.
Hoover attended this week's meeting to determine if the village had decided whether it wanted to join with the landowners' association. He said they have already begun negotiating with drillers and are now bound by a non-disclosure agreement that prevents them from disclosing any terms, although Hoover said he could brief council in executive session.
While villages may not be allowed to join with other groups, local school districts have been joining with the landowners' group to pursue leasing school property to drilling companies. Just this week, the county vocational school became the latest to do so.
Barborak said her research and discussions with an assistant county prosecutor indicate the village would have to go it alone and seek formal bids from drillers interested in leasing the village's 57 acres.
She will research the law further and report back to council with a definite opinion on its options. Hoover said he would be willing to return to future meetings if council wants.