Northwest Arlington's Extended Oaks group has been fighting divisions within itself and, it says, a landman and Chesapeake Energy.
Now it has a new and improved lease offer to deal with: $15,000 per-acre signing bonus, 25 percent royalty, three-year term, and two-year option at $15,000 per acre.
"I'm still holding off in the sense that the group has to decide from a leadership point of view," says Jerry Pikulinski, one of the group's organizers.
That may be a challenge. Pikulinski acknowledges difficulty in keeping his group together and says one member has been trying to negotiate with Chesapeake's land agent, Axia Land Services, on the sly. "I'm going to have to deal with defectors in my group who are working against the negotiating process," Pikulinski said.
Extended Oaks, which says it represents about 700 property owners in the area west of Randol Mill Road/Westwood, west of Fielder Road, north of Division Street, and east of Crowley Road, has been trying to encourage competition for leases but hasn't found any.
It's been dueling Axia, which Pikulinski says has been trying to "bust" the neighborhood alliance. He points out that Axia's landman, Mark Gordon, bumped up the company's offer to the $15,000 from $12,500 at a recent neighborhood meeting, but that Axia hasn't put anything in writing. Axia also is telling the neighborhood that the offer would include what's in the Extended Oaks boundaries, Pikulinski says, but he says that also is not in writing. Initially, Axia wanted to exclude the area between Oakwood and Fielder, Pikulinski said.
"We don't have anything in the way of an agreement or an understanding," Pikulinski said. "They're not negotiating with us."
Axia and Chesapeake say the neighborhood group has been so intent on encouraging a competitor to come in that it hasn't invited Axia and Chesapeake in to talk. Jerri Robbins, Chesapeake's public affairs manager for the Barnett Shale, says the company would be receptive.
"That's what we're there for," she said.
In the meantime, Robbins issued a defense of Gordon, the landman who has been under attack by leaders of the alliance. Click here to visit the Extended Oaks web site.
"I'm aware of Mark Gordon. Mark Gordon is a good guy. Every interaction I've had with him has been positive," said Robbins, pointing out that Gordon has been receiving good feedback from Extended Oaks homeowners. Gordon referred questions to Chesapeake.
Of Axia's offer, Robbins said, "that's a good offer. Nothing wrong with $15,000 an acre."
She also pointed out that property owners are under no obligation to sign any lease offer. "Property owners have the right to sign when and where they want, or they don't have to sign at all," she said.
Robbins said she'd have to research who is covered under the Axia lease offer. More on that later.
The Extended Oaks association is having a meeting 7 p.m. March 4 at the Arlington Chinese Church, 805 Oakwood Lane, to discuss its next moves.
-- Scott Nishimura
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(Photo: Randol Mill Park)