Helis trucks pull off site, as company considers next legal move

Helis trucks pull off site, as company considers next legal move

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Helis Oil began pulling out equipment from it's drilling site in St Tammany Parish today after a crucial state court ruling.

That's not the only hurdle the company faces after a decision made by the Mandeville Mayor.

A steady stream of trucks pull out of the Helis drilling site, north of Mandeville.

"It's definitely a good day for us, I'm hoping more will come from this from the parish's perspective," said Mandeville resident Tom Nowak.

This comes after St Tammany parish officials issued a cease and desist order Monday evening.

The order, followed a Baton Rouge judge's decision to grant what's called a 'suspensive appeal'.

This move effectively reinstates parish zoning laws, which had previously designated Helis's drilling site as residential.

"The suspensive appeal halts everything, it halts the project, until the legal process is continued," said Rick Franzo with the group 'Concerned Citizens of St Tammany'.

The stoppage is a victory for the group concerned citizens of St Tammany. The advocacy group hired as many as five attorneys to fight the drilling proposal which they saw as bad for the parish.

"If they take the chance to do something now, they can be arrested for contempt of court," said Franzo.

As Helis attorneys continue to look at their legal options, Helis spokesman Greg Beuerman says the company will continue to abide by the parish stop work order.

In the mean time, Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere, issued an order for the city to quit selling water to a Helis supply company

"The DNR report says they can't use drilled water, or city water...they have to use pond water," said Franzo.

Villere, who last year came out against fracking, said in a statement, there was an instance of water being sold to a Helis supplier by the Public Works Department, but that it would not happen again.

For now, there will be no more activity at the site off Highway 1088, where nearby residents say they're relieved.

"Like most people who live in the area, water, roads traffic, everything everyone is worried about, I'm worried about," said Nowak.

Helis officials chose not to go on camera today, but  issued a statement saying the stop work order is in violation of state law, but said they would obey it.

Fracking opponents say they are prepared to carry their fight to federal court, if needed, depending on Helis's appeal.

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