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State OKs oil drilling permit for Southfield church

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The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has granted a controversial permit to drill oil on church-owned property in Southfield.

Traverse City-based Jordan Development Co. applied for the permit to drill an exploratory oil well on 1.5 acres of land leased from the Word of Faith International Christian Center.

The city opposes the drilling. Some residents say it will lower property values, increase emissions and pose a risk of contamination.

Southfield community relations director Michael Manion says there are a number of homes close to the proposed drilling site, many of which are on well water.

"We're concerned about contaminated well water, the environmental impact, the noise. (Drilling) really just isn't compatible in that area," Manion said.

Manion says the city has a moratorium that prohibits oil drilling or mining. It runs out on April 28.

"The city will request a temporary restraining order through Oakland Circuit Court if necessary, to halt (MDEQ's) decision," he said.

Hal Fitch with the MDEQ says the permit application was reviewed thoroughly and met all of the state's criteria. 

"Once we reviewed all the public comments, it was determined the application met all statutory and legal requirements. As such, the DEQ was obligated to issue the permit with conditions," Fitch said.

Those conditions include hospital grade mufflers to minimize noise from drill rigs, fencing to prevent unauthorized access and shielded lighting.

Fitch says the DEQ will also monitor drilling operations to ensure regulations are followed.

The permit does not allow Jordan Development to conduct hydraulic fracturing.

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