West Virginia Record

Sunday, July 21, 2019

New plaintiff added in Morgantown drilling ban suit

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 18, 2011

MORGANTOWN – Enrout Properties, LLC, has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit involving Northeast Natural Energy suing the City of Morgantown for banning drilling in a natural gas area.

On June 21, the City of Morgantown enacted an ordinance prohibiting drilling a well for the purpose of extracting or storing oil or gas using horizontal drilling with fracturing or fracking methods within the limits of the city or within one mile of the corporate city limits of the city, according to the motion filed June 24 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Enrout Properties claims the city is unlawfully taking the property rights of everyone with an interest in Marcellus shale natural gas in an area without compensation. It claims the ordinance should be declared invalid and unenforceable because the city council failed to comply with the charter and that the ordinance was never read by the city clerk in its entirety, which is a violation of the charter.

The city of Morgantown is "impermissibly reaching out beyond its borders to regulate oil and gas activities that are exclusively regulated by the State," according to the complaint filed June 23 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Northeast Natural Energy and Enrout Properties claim the ordinance is unconstitutional and unlawful.

As the drilling operations conducted by Northeast Natural Energy are permitted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and authorized as lawful under the West Virginia Oil and Gas Act, the drilling operations cannot constitute a public nuisance, according to the suit.

Enrout Properties claims the city's ordinance is arbitrary and capricious in that it attempts to extend the city's jurisdiction over land use beyond its municipal corporate limits.

The plaintiffs are seeking for the court to declare the Morgantown ordinance to be in violation of the Constitutions of both West Virginia and the United States of America; award Northeast just compensation in an amount to be determined at trial; and to grant such further relief as the Court deems just and proper. It is being represented by James A. Walls, Michael S. Garrison and Tamara B. Williamson.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 11-C-411

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