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Southfield Residents Speak Out Against Mega Church Plan To Drill For Oil

SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) - Some Southfield residents are speaking out against a mega-church that's hoping to strike it rich by drilling for oil.

Larry Quarles and his neighbor Skip Davis are taking on Bishop Keith Butler of Word of Faith Church, Jordan Development, and company attorney, former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.

"This is their whole idea: Drill, baby, drill," Quarles told WWJ's Vickie Thomas. "My biggest concern is the health and safety of the residents of the city of Southfield and the watershed that comes off the Rouge River, which is less than a mile from the property."

They're planning to protesting outside the church on Sunday.

"The idea of oil drilling in a densely populated residential area by Word of Faith Church at 9 Mile and Evergreen is unconscionable," said Davis.

"It may be legal, but it's not ethical," he said, adding that he and his neighbors are also concerned about a possible impact on property values.

Butler did not immediately return a call seeking comments.

Ben Brower with Jordan Development says drilling won't put residents in danger.

He told Thomas there are already 48 wells producing oil in Oakland County — including one on Michigan State University's Troy campus. Brower said Wayne County has 28, with one behind Costco in Livonia and one on the campus of Schoolcraft College. He said St. Clair County has 475 and Macomb County has 158.

Brower doesn't believe a moratorium on drilling in Southfield applies to this project because he says the MDEQ is the governing body.  He also says no fracking will ever be done on the site.

Hal Fitch, head of Oil and Gas Division of MDEQ, says Jan. 18 is the last day for public comment and those interested can email comments to

So far, he said, he's received 1,500 comments supporting the drilling and 30 against.

A decision on the church's application could come next week.

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