Appeals Court Ruling Validates City of Rochester Hills Again

Courts Determined City Acted Appropriate in Gas/Oil Leasing Decision

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the City of Rochester Hills, Jordan Development Company and Sunoco Pipeline by Don’t Drill the Hills, Inc., a citizen’s group which sought to invalidate the oil and gas lease the City approved in 2012. The lawsuit claimed the oil and gas lease was unlawful under state law and the city charter and require voter approval. But, the three-judge appeals court panel disagreed, unanimously holding that the oil and gas lease is lawful and does not require voter approval.

Court Ruling Decision

Court Ruling Decision

The appeals court was clear and pointed in its decision, “We detect no risk to the nature of the public park posed by the Jordan Development Lease, and no conversion of a public park to another use.

A park is commonly understood in terms of the surface, and the Jordan Development lease only concerns subsurface oil and gas. In fact, the lease contains express restrictions on activities that would interfere with the use of the park as a park.”

The oil and gas lease covers the subsurface oil rights under Nowicki and Tienken Parks and the Stony Creek cemetery.  Conditions the City demanded in the oil and gas lease with Jordan ban fracking, prohibit Jordan’s entry onto the premises, prohibit any oil wells or related facilities to be located at the parks or cemetery, and prevent any interference with park features or park use. 

Reflecting on the appeals court ruling, Mayor Bryan Barnett commented, “Three separate courts have ruled that the City acted lawfully and with great care in this matter. At all times, the Council and administration have had public safety and the best interests of the City’s residents in mind. It’s not always easy to balance the rights of individuals in a large community but it’s wonderful to know that our efforts have been validated and that we acted to protect the rights of all involved according to the law.” 

Established in 1984, the City of Rochester Hills is a prosperous community offering residents and businesses superior services. Voted one of the Top 10 Best Places to Live by several sources including CNN Money magazine and, Rochester Hills is committed to sustaining its position among the nation’s preeminent places to live, work and raise a family. Through the city’s focus on health, education and technology, the community continues to attract forward-thinking leaders and businesses.

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