Council approves wording for ordinance amendment

City Zoning Officer Matt Pfeufer addressed members of St. Marys City Council earlier this week to inform them that the St. Marys Planning Commission had revised its draft of a zoning ordinance amendment regarding oil and gas development. Council members gave their approval to the revised draft of the ordinance. Council members had expressed concern over the previous draft because it had required individuals to have access to a minimum of 10 acres of land in order to pursue oil or gas drilling. "What [the planning commission] did is they removed the 10-acre minimum lot size from the Rural Conservation District and added a new section, 459.6, under section 459, which specifies that the minimum lot size for the development will be determined by city council as part of the conditional use approval process in order to protect the public's health, safety and welfare," Pfeufer said. With the removal of a minimum lot size, Pfeufer explained that the decision on whether or not an individual has obtained the rights to enough property for drilling to take place will be up to city council. City Solicitor Mark Jacob indicated that he believed what was submitted by the planning commission was sufficient and remarked that he would not have to rewrite it; however, he did express to council members his belief that they should hire someone more familiar with such ordinances to review it. "My recommendation has been, and still is, to council that we have some specialist review this because I really think that there are other issues that are involved there that we need at least an opinion on before we go forward," Jacob said. Jacob noted that council members could publish the ordinance if they saw fit to do so, but cautioned them that it would have to be republished if they decided to change anything in the future.