A lawsuit filed in Circuit Court on May 18 by Equitable Gas Company against the Doddridge County Commission was open for public discussion Tuesday afternoon at the Doddridge County Courthouse.
Last November, EQT filed for a floodplain permit near Grove Summers Road in Doddridge County and was later issued a gas well permit by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Landowner Joye Huff said she was never informed of that permit application or permit approval.
"Exercising their interest in drilling for gas they applied for a WV DEP gas well permit. Part of the permit process requires that they comply with other regulations, one of which is the Doddridge County Flood Plain Ordinance," said Bill Thurman, Huff's attorney.
EQT submitted that floodplain permit on November 22. It was approved that same day.
Huff said that land flooded three times in the last eight years.
Thurman said proper notice wasn't given.
"Weren't given any notice and the issues was approved without anyone knowing," Thurman said.
Once word got out that the floodplain permit was granted, environmental concerns came into play.
"If EQT's allowed to put 60,000 cubic yards of fill dirt in a meadow it will constrict that meadow, raise the level of the meadow and that will create a ponding affect. And that will flood my client's home, Mr. Foster's home upstream, and other people upstream," Thurman said.
The former Floodplain Manager, Gerry Evans, later revoked that permit. Evans is also a county commissioner and has refused to vote on the issue.
EQT has since filed a lawsuit requesting that the initial permit be granted. An attorney for EQT and an employee were present Tuesday. Both denied to comment on the issue.
Commission's Attorney, Don Tennant, also denied our request to speak on camera.
Thurman said his client filed a motion to intervene in that lawsuit. Huff also filed claims against EQT and County Commission.
"Counterclaim in our position about the inadequacies of the permit that EQT production obtained and a cross claim against the Doddridge County Commission because we believe there are procedural errors and due process errors," Thurman said.
Thurman said this could happen to other landowners.
"It can happen to anybody where they apply for a permit unless there's a notice requirement. And that's our problem with County Commission. We believe the county Commission needs to go back, revisit the ordinance and make modifications to allow for public notice," Thurman said.
Thurman also said if notice was given, it's likely the permit wouldn't have been approved in the first place.
"It's not going to be allowed if the floodplain ordinance is in affect and enforced properly, it's very likely it won't be approved," Thurman said.
County Commission adjourned Tuesday without any decisions or comments on the matter. Its attorney said a decision will be made in public hearing but did not give a date for that hearing.
Several community members shared their concerns at the meeting on Tuesday. Some landowners worry about flooding and flood insurance issues. Others raised concern about potential problems with FEMA assistance.
Individuals asked County Commission to remember its duty to "keep in mind the community's best interest."
You can share your thoughts on the matter by visiting Jamie Stover's Facebook Page.