Allegheny County Council will not hire an outside oil and gas attorney to conduct an independent review of the proposed Deer Lakes Park ordinance and lease.
A motion put forward by Councilwoman Sue Means, R-Bethel Park, and co-sponsored by Heather Heidelbaugh, R-Mt. Lebanon, failed in committee Thursday.
Five members of the council's government reform committee -- John DeFazio, D-Shaler, Charles Martoni, D-Swissvale, Jim Ellenbogen, D-Banksville, Michael Finnerty, D-Scott, and Nicholas Futules, D-Oakmont -- voted against it.
In addition to Ms. Means, Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, and Ed Kress, R-Shaler and Amanda Green Hawkins, D-Stanton Heights, voted for it.
Ms. Means said she wanted council to hire an attorney to provide advice on the ordinance that council is considering regarding the leasing of the mineral rights beneath Deer Lakes Park for natural gas production, as well as the lease itself. The lease would allow Range Resources and Huntley and Huntley to drill horizontally under the park from well pads on private property around the perimeter.
Ms. Heidelbaugh, herself an attorney, said she had used $3,000 from her county council stipend to have another attorney look over the ordinance and lease for her. She called the point of Ms. Means' proposal to provide an "additional piece of information that is added to the mix."
But the suggestion was met with opposition. Mr. Ellenbogen asked how council would agree on an attorney, and said county council already had a solicitor, Jack Cambest.
Earlier this month, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald described the call for council to hire an outside attorney to review the lease as a "stall tactic."
The council's parks committee will meet Wednesday for its third session on the Deer Lakes proposal.
In a related matter, Councilman Bill Robinson said he thinks the lease should include a "detailed plan" on how Range Resources will provide jobs for black residents and for those graduating from the oil and gas program through the Community College of Allegheny County.
Amie Downs, spokeswoman for Mr. Fitzgerald, said Mr. Robinson "chose not to provide any input" during the drafting of the lease.
"That being said, the lease does provide for maximum practicable contracting opportunities -- not just for minority-owned businesses, but also women-owned and veteran-owned enterprises as well," she said in a statement.
Kaitlynn Riely: email@example.com or 412-263-1707. First Published April 24, 2014 12:15 PM