By CHRIS EVERSOLE
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has refused to hear an oil and gas company’s appeal of the City of Mustang’s restrictions on two proposed oil and gas wells.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was brief, stating “petitioner’s application to assume original jurisdiction is denied.”
The refusal to hear the appeal is a victory for the city, leaving in place a temporary injunction issued by Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse.
“We were pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. It was a good win for the city and an even bigger win for our residents,”City Manager Timothy Rooney said.
The city spent approximately $75,000 on legal fees in the case.
“This was about a city’s ability to stand up for and protect the rights of its residents,” Rooney said.
“When one purchases and develops a piece of property in a community, one has the reasonable expectation to be able to enjoy that property in the manner that it was developed,” the city manager said.
Rooney said that the root of this case came down to Citizen Energy believing it did not have to comply with any of Mustang’s regulations and safeguards to protect the quality of life of the surrounding residents and property owners.
“Clearly they were wrong,” he said.
Citizen Energy’s did not respond to a request for comment.
The company’s suit claimed that the city exceeded its authority in requiring a 16-foot sound barrier around the proposed drilling site, located on Frisco Road at the northwest corner of the city.
At a Nov. 9 public hearing, neighboring property owners pleaded with the city council to deny the wells, noting that they would create noise and traffic problems and potentially could be dangerous.
Jay Adams, who was mayor at the time, responded that Oklahoma law does not allow cities to deny oil and gas well applications, but it does allow them to set conditions such as the sound barrier.
The council approved the application – subject to conditions.
In addition to the sound barrier, the city’s conditions would control traffic and require the company to repair road damage.
In discussions with the parties, Citizen Energy agreed to comply with all the conditions except for the noise barrier, Judge Hesse said.
Both the city of Ponca City and the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association filed friend of the court briefs with the Supreme Court.
Ponca City argued in its brief that the City of Mustang acted within its authority in setting special conditions for the wells, including requiring the sound barrier.
Ponca City was involved in the case because it has a refinery within the city limits, and there is considerable oil industry activity nearby.
“We have no problem with the state regulating where oil and gas wells are placed, but we think cities have the right to regulate nuisances associated with them, such as noise and damage to roads,” said Michael Vanderburg, an attorney for Ponca City. “These things affect the entire public.”
In addition, Ponca City wanted to preserve the rights of charter cities – which both Mustang and Ponca City are, he said.
Charter cities have special rights under the Oklahoma Constitution.
“We don’t want these rights to self-government to go away,” he said.