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Oklahoma firm withdraws drilling request in Sandoval County

RIO RANCHO — The review process for a zone change sought by SandRidgeEnergy to drill an exploratory and production well west of Rio Rancho has come to an abrupt end.

In a letter dated Tuesday to the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission, the Oklahoma-company withdrew the controversial application.

It gave no explanation for the withdrawal.

The P&Z board, concurring with the county planning staff, in January recommended denial of the application on grounds the company hadn’t furnished adequate information.

Last week, the Sandoval County Commission remanded the application to the P&Z so the company could address the concerns raised by the planning board. A meeting was set for March 23.

Sidney Hill, Sandoval County public information officer, said SandRidge’s withdrawal was a surprise, noting arrangements were being made between county staff and the company to meet before the March meeting.


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Bob Gallagher, a consultant for SandRidge, declined to comment on the withdrawal. SandRidge representative Linda McDonald could not be reached for comment.

SandRidge sought to rezone two acres of privately owned land in the Rio Rancho Estates area, from residential to special-use zoning, to allow for exploratory and production drilling.

A huge community response followed SandRidge’s filing in November. December’s planning and zoning meeting drew over 100 people, most of whom opposed the application. The meeting was continued to January, and that also drew a standing room-only crowd. A similar crowd showed up for last week’s county commission meeting.

Placitas resident Mike Neas, who spoke on behalf of opponents last week, said he was relieved to hear SandRidge pulled its application.

“It’s really cool that the people were able to speak so loudly and to accomplish what they set out to do,” Neas said. “It doesn’t happen all the time, does it?”