Twin Lakes citizens will decide fate of proposed oil wells in community vote

Jacquelyn Valley

A community vote will precede any further plans to add oil and gas wells in Twin Lakes after a feasibility study is completed.

Tom Tadsen, president of the Twin Lakes Board of Trustees, said the board decided to explore what he called a “hot button issue” in the community after receiving many solicitations from local oil and gas companies. The previous three boards had never touched the issue.

“We hired a local geologist to help us evaluate the situation and help us determine what all the pros and cons are,” he said.

The feasibility study began more than a year ago, but the board held an informational meeting Aug. 18 to dispel misinformation circulating in the community about the wells, Tadsen said.

Tadsen, who has received hate calls and threats since the initiative began, said a Twin Lakes community member distributed a misinformed letter in June that said the board had already decided to drill on common property.

“We made it clear to the people at the meeting to make sure it would be a community vote,” he said.

The board will hold another informational meeting for the 423 property owners in Twin Lakes, pending the completion of the feasibility report. No timetable has been set for the completion of the report, which will identify possible site locations for the wells.

“The best we could do is move along at a slow pace necessary to present information to the community,” Tadsen said.

According to the Ohio Division of Natural Resources, 2,556 active wells exist in Portage County, including 97 in Franklin Township.

Of those wells in the county, 66 exist in a one-mile radius of Twin Lakes, Tadsen said.

Tadsen said the community members opposed to the idea have valid concerns, such as the health of the environment and safety of the drilling.

“Any time you do something different to an ecosystem, it’s going to have some effect on the animals, the plants and potentially the water quality,” he said.

Still, Tadsen said the geologist assured board members that adding oil and gas wells would not drain the lakes or pose serious threats to the environment.

“The board is a bunch of people who work hard for the community,” he said. “I fish in the lakes here. My grandkids boat here.

“I wouldn’t do anything in the world to damage the ecosystem here.”

If community members approve the drilling, Tadsen said the board might need to negotiate with property owners for two or three pieces of property. Those property owners would receive free gas for life in addition to a percentage of royalties.

The remaining revenue generated by the wells would go toward improving common property within Twin Lakes, Tadsen said. Twin Lakes would not incur installation costs because the board would negotiate leases with energy companies.

About five years ago, Tadsen said an oil and gas well in Camp Spellman yielded about $2,000 per month in revenue.

Twin Lakes resident Monica Sandstrom lives near the common property that has been cited as a possible location for an oil and gas well. For her, the issues at stake include the environment, neighborhood aesthetics, resale value of homes and overall quality of life.

“I didn’t buy a house in Twin Lakes so that people could put a gas well here,” said Sandstrom, a six-year resident of the community.

Sandstrom said she doesn’t see the need for additional revenue for the Twin Lakes Association either.

“Telling us you’re going to improve areas after destroying them doesn’t seem like a reason,” she said.

But Tadsen said exploring the possibility of adding wells in Twin Lakes reflects the changing needs of the community – one that is no longer only composed of elderly couples and retired Kent State faculty members.

“We need to look at the needs of the newer community members,” he said. “If we remain stagnant, this place will look like it did in 1908.”

Contact public affairs reporter Jacquelyn Valley at [email protected].