by Brent Hovey

Reporter

Aurora -- Service Director John Trew said the city has "little to no choice" in the matter when it comes to dealing with a non-drilling contract for land in the northern part of town.

At City Council's May 29 meeting, members will consider on third reading an ordinance to approve a contract for a non-drilling oil and gas lease with Transcontinental Oil & Gas Inc. which covers public land along Route 43 near Marion Drive.

The contract would allow the city to collect royalties on any gas and oil extracted from the land, while giving Transcontinental access to it via a Marion Drive right-of-way.

The city could receive up to $30,000 a year from the wells depending on how well they produce.

But some residents and Council members expressed concern over green space issues, such as having oil trucks and digging equipment in a small area, and possible damage large vehicles could do to roads.

Several residents asked why the city should allow the company to come in and tear up the property for oil and gas that may or may not be there.

"WE DON'T have much choice," Trew said. "We could say no, but it [the company] could force its way in through the state anyway.

"No matter what, the company is going to take the oil and gas, even if we say no, so we might as well get some royalties from it."

Trew said that's the case because the state controls all drilling and has jurisdiction over where it wants to take oil and gas from public land.

Transcontinental already has leased all the property needed for the project on the Phillips property at 935 Bank Street. The ordinance would give the company access to city property along Route 43.

According to Trew, after drilling the wells, Transcontinental would build a service road over the Catalani property on Route 43, just to the south of the city's property.

Trew said allowing Trans-continental access through Marion Drive would keep Bank Street cleaner and in better condition.

Transcontinental has pro-mised to restore any land damaged to its original state, or maybe even better, according to Trew.

"They've been very good to work with in the past," he added. "We've had good negotiations and communications. It's a win-win for the city."

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