Board approves oil applicationPublished 12:03am Thursday, January 17, 2013
JACKSON — The Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board approved Wednesday RMB Exploration’s application to drill an oil well on historic Arlington property, but the City of Natchez contends city approvals for the oil operation are not complete.
City of Natchez representatives were not at the meeting. City Attorney Hyde Carby said the city withdrew its notice of objection to the proposed oil operation.
Carby said, however, the city believes that the city’s administrative approval process must still be completed.
“We’re not through with the administrative process,” Carby said. “At this point, we are waiting to see what happens. Anybody who tried to open a McDonald’s or wanted to build a building downtown would have to (receive city approval.)”
Mayor Butch Brown remained tight-lipped about the matter, citing that he did not want to comment on the matter because of possible litigation.
Brown did say he believed the oil and gas board’s approval violated the city’s appeal process. Appeals to preservation commission decisions are made to Adams County Chancery Court.
St. Charles Avenue resident Nona Colombo addressed the oil and gas board Wednesday morning saying she represented other residents living near the proposed drilling site. Colombo said she submitted paperwork to the oil and gas board asking for a 30-day continuance to allow residents in the area to collect more information about RMB’s application from city officials.
“Residents have not been able to get information on the latest developments of the drilling site,” Colombo told the board.
Oil and gas board vice chairman John Parker told Colombo the board would take her comments and application for continuance under consideration.
RMB’s attorney William Blair said the matter had been continued for several months, and he wished to proceed with the application Wednesday.
The board then voted deny Colombo’s request for continuance and approve RMB Exploration’s application.
The application sought to force pool land ownership in the proposed 40-acre oil unit.
Forced pooling essentially forces non-consenting landowners to join the agreements with their neighbors
The Natchez Preservation Commission denied last week developer Mike Biglane’s application for an oil operation on Arlington property for the second time.
The application is expected to go before the Natchez Planning Commission at its meeting next week.
RMB Exploration conducted preliminary oil exploration on Arlington property in late 2011 and early January without completing the city’s approval process for the operation.
Biglane appeared before the preservation commission last January for approval, which wasn’t granted at the time. Biglane never returned to the commission after the exploration resulted in a dry hole.
Biglane returned to the preservation commission in May with an amended application for a second proposed oil operation.
The oil well was denied by the preservation and planning commissions. The Natchez Board of Aldermen denied Biglane’s appeal to the preservation commission’s decision.
Biglane then filed an application with the oil and gas board last summer for authority to drill the well previously denied by the city.
The oil and gas board granted the city one 90-day continuance and another 60-day continuance to allow time for all interested parties to come to a compromise on the oil operation.
RMB’s application would need a certificate of appropriateness from the preservation commission because the property is in the historic district. It would also need rezoning approval from the planning commission because the property is in a residential district.