New Castle News

March 24, 2012

Union considering drilling lease

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The potential exists for the Union school district to sign a five-year lease for shale drilling.

However, the motion to recommend an agreement with Texas-based Hilcorp in Houston, was tabled at this week’s meeting.

According to superintendent Dr. Alfonso “Butch” Angelucci, some details need to be worked out by the district’s solicitor, Louis Perrotta, before the board can vote on the matter.

The recommendation calls for leasing 48 acres of district property for $3,300 an acre. The district also would realize a 17 percent royalty fee should the company drill there.

“This could be another source of revenue of $150,000,” Angelucci said of the lease. “We’re taking a serious look at all aspects, though, and doing our due diligence on the matter. The final pieces just aren’t in place yet.”

The land targeted includes 12.5 acres of school farm property off Route 224 near Burger King. The remaining acreage is behind the campus, extending toward Route 224.

Angelucci pointed out the board is being very careful about approaching the issue, adding there needs to be full understanding of expectations of the use of the land.

For instance, part of the agreement is that well drilling must be done at least 500 feet from buildings and utility lines.

Upon completion, the land must be restored to as near to the original contour as possible, he said.

Arin Biondi moved to table the motion. It was seconded by Carmen Merolillo.

A vote is expected to take place either during a special session or at the board’s regular meeting April 18.

Angelucci pointed out Hilcorp has signed other land agreements in Lawrence County.

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com)