The commissioners unanimously granted the drilling rights to a local attorney representing a Grand Rapids, Michigan firm. Washington County owns the land, which includes the county nursing home.
"The area around where the county home building is, there is to be no drilling, no surface stuff at all," James Schneider, Washington County Prosecuting Attorney, told the commission Tuesday. "There is one place over the hill where we allow a pipe to be put on ground."
Still, a former county commission member voiced concern about the proximity of that line to the county home itself.
"We saw not too long ago in Texas, where they had a fertilizer plant that exploded," said local realtor Cora Marshall. "And that was built very close to a nursing home."
According to the commissioners and their attorney, this is not the first time a company has had permission to drill on the county home site. Another company had similar rights 30 years ago, before it went out of business.
And the drilling would not involve a transmission line, which transports products from one location to another. it would likely be for storage.
"There's a chance of a collection line at the site," said Commission President David White. "But collection lines typically go from the wellhead to the main transmission line somewhere. There's also a possibility there won't even be so much as a line across our property."
But with the controversy about drilling and safety in other counties, any news of drilling locally is likely to result in some discussion.