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Families frustrated with oil and gas drilling in their neighborhood

Feb 5, 2015

Credit Michigan Oil and Gas Association

Michigan's zoning law bars counties and townships from regulating the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells, meaning oil can be drilled as close as 450 feet from your property line without prior notification.

Detroit Free Press reporter Keith Matheny talked to homeowners living next to an oil well in their neighborhood who were given no forewarning of its construction.

While counties and townships are not in control of regulating drilling, Matheny says cities do have control, although no one has a good answer about why that discrepancy exists. The law is decades old, and Metheny speculates it was put into effect when most people lived in cities, and townships were made up of mostly farming families.

Matheny says the drilling can become a major disruption for residential neighborhoods, with 24/7 noise, bright lights at night, truck traffic, and heavy equipment.

Legislative attempts to allow counties and townships to regulate drilling have so far failed to gain traction. So some residents are starting the fight to the local level, trying to leverage zoning and police authority instead. 

*Listen to our conversation with Keith Matheny at 3 p.m. on Stateside