By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Churchill Valley Country Club — 1,200 acres of what were once manicured fairways and greens has now gone to seed.

But the possibility of a massive shale gas drilling operation here has the adjoining neighborhood of Blackridge on edge.

“I am totally against that,” said one resident.

“They assure us that they’re lining the pipes with cement and there’s going to be no leak of the fluids, but you’re still concerned,” said Sandra Bruwelheide.

“Not to mention that traffic, there has to be some amount of pollution and property values would be an issue too,” added another resident.

An overflow crowd is expected in council chambers Monday night, most to voice their concerns about drilling on the site — but what they will hear is that council is already taking steps to prevent it.

“That’s the draft ordnance,” said Councilman Craig Robinson.

Council will be introducing changes to the zoning code which would prohibit drilling and related activities in residential areas.

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “So that would prevent it from being at the golf course?”

Robinson: “Yes it would.”

EQT Resources — which has yet to confirm the country club as a potential drilling site — issued a statement today saying it is, “still in a preliminary planning phase and potentially years away from any actual drilling in these areas.”

The statement goes on to say:

“While the rapid growth of the natural gas industry can bring some temporary challenges to its community members, EQT is proud of the relationships we’ve cultivated with the local elected officials in our communities – many of which have local ordinances relating to drilling activities – and when concerns arise during production, EQT works diligently with communities at large as well as individual landowners to address them.”

But while several adjoining property owners have signed leases with EQT — neighboring Wilkins Township is considering similar changes to their zoning ordinance.

Outside of the residents who’ve already signed leases, the sentiment is decidedly anti-drilling. But whether these towns have he power to stop it remains to be seen.

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