Dexter Planning Commission Moves Forward On Oil, Gas Drilling Discussion

The Dexter Planning Commission held its July meeting, at the Dexter Senior Center, on Monday. First on the agenda was discussion on amending the master plan of the city to allow for oil and gas drilling provisions.

“We’ve talked about this for a couple of meetings, but we’re getting much closer,” Commission Chairperson Matt Kowalski said.

The board is considering a proposal to amend the master plan to account for drilling, sometimes known as fracking. Currently, there are very few places in the city that could be used for oil drilling because of residential zoning.

“There are 12 or 13 pages in the current master plan that we’re recommending be changed to reflect the oil facilities, gas facilities, that go along with that,” said Doug
Lewan, an advising lawyer from Carlisle | Wortman.

There were several members on the board who sought to limit the possibility of drilling. The language proposed included environmental concerns and planning considerations.

In the amendment proposal packet, available on dextermi.gov, several points were laid out as possible amendments to the master plan. Because, as the draft said “the current Master Plan does not specifically address oil and gas wells and associated ancillary uses.”

Broadly speaking, the proposal for amendment would do three things if it were to be implemented. It seeks to update how the planning commission identifies and uses land through “city planning initiatives,” zoning requirements,” and “zoning adjustments.”

It would also “evaluate which districts … in the city are most compatible with oil and gas exploration and development activates.” It would do this by amending the Master Plan’s light industrial and R & D provisions. And it would also seek protections for water safety in the Huron River and Mill Creek.

Thirdly, the proposal would edit parts of the Master Plan “addressing the effect of oil and gas activities and uses on transportation and safety.” This would require any proposed drill or related sight to be reviewed to account for safety during transportation.

And it would also touch on how the implementation of drilling would have on “community services.” Police, fire, parks, etc. And it would have new regulations on permits. And it would provide new regulations on ensuring that the police and other emergency services could sufficient access in an emergency.

No final decision was made on the topic. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to send the draft to the Dexter city council.

This does not mean that the planning commission approved or in any way ok’d the amendment. What it does mean is that the draft is now developed enough to be sent to the council for them to consider, so they know what they can expect in the upcoming formal amendment proposal. This also means that the council may be able to distribute it to the surrounding townships and the county, for the same reason.

The drilling topic will still be an open topic for the planning commission and the council. The next meeting will be on Tuesday, September 8th.

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