APRIL FOOLS' DAY — To raise revenue without raising assessments, supervisors on Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 1 are considering a proposal for exploratory oil drilling on district property.
The East County Observer last week received a copy of a memo from an undisclosed district supervisor that asserts supervisors should consider the option.
“There is growing evidence that the area from Myakka City to the bay may harbor extensive oil reserves,” the memo states. “If so, we — and our constituents — should be the first to benefit from these resources.”
The memo also states the supervisor has been in contact with Texas-based extraction company Peterson Petrol about the possibility. Based on initial findings, discussions look promising.
If supervisors move forward with the drilling, the CDD will use existing funds in its discretionary budget to purchase foreclosed homes within the district, which includes Summerfield and Riverwalk. The homes then would be leveled to make room for oil derricks throughout the district.
The property on which Lakewood Ranch now sits was unsuccessfully explored for oil reserves in the 1920s, but because of advances in technology, the company may be able to extract oil from shale.
Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, confirmed portions of the community may have shale beneath the surface.
“When we (began work on) Greenbrook East, there were still some oil rights on the property and we had to get rid of those,” Jensen said. “It may be the supervisors picked up on that and decided to pursue it once again.”
When asked why SMR is not considering the option — even though the company operates a shell mining operation off Lorraine Road, south of University Parkway, Jensen said he didn’t want to risk the impact on potential future development.
“We won’t be doing it on our property because we don’t like the smell of the oil well,” he said. “Mining shell doesn’t stink.”
CDD 1 Chairman June Strout said she was not aware of the memo but would be ready for discussion when the undisclosed supervisor comes forward.
The drilling proposal comes after district residents shot down a proposal to place a telecommunications tower on land at the back of Summerfield Park. Despite that opposition, Strout remains optimistic about the new venture.
The income from oil would be significantly more than that from a cell tower, which would be used to lower district assessments while paying for some much-needed improvements to the community, including new signage and other items.
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