Spafford seeks to end lease with gas company

— The Spafford Town Board is opting not to renew a land lease with Chesapeake Operating Inc., a gas company based in Oklahoma City.

Supervisor Webb Stevens said he received the new five-year lease agreement from the gas company, which included a $300 check for the five-year period, just prior to the board’s meeting Thursday, March 8. Following a brief discussion the board voted to not renew the agreement.

“I think we better send the check back and send them a note saying we won’t renew the lease,” Stevens said.

While board members feared simply sending the check back would not terminate any agreements, Stevens hoped a letter stating the town’s intent not to renew would be enough to end the contract.

Councilor Chris Fesko said it had been rumored the company had been caught changing information on leases in the county clerk’s office.

“[The town will] send it back and see what their correspondence is to us,” Stevens said, adding that the letter would include the town’s wishes not to renew the lease with Chesapeake “or any other gas company for any period of time.”

If the lease has been changed, Stevens said the town is “going to find out if they [Chesapeake] have a toehold” based on the company’s response and would be surprised if Chesapeake Operating, Inc., allowed the town to simply send the check back with a note of cancellation.

“I don’t fully expect they’ll do it. I would be surprised if they let us do it and let us out of our lease,” he said.

According to Town Clerk Lisa Valletta, the town property leased by Chesapeake Operating Inc., a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, is a 0.22-acre lot near the intersection of Bacon Hill Road and Route 41.

Stevens said the lease does not have anything to do with hydraulic fracturing and was granted to the company five years ago when Chesapeake Operating, Inc., performed tests while exploring the area for gas pockets.

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