As drillers leave, land returns to market

Date: February 28, 2011

An area Realtor sees more people moving to the Back Mountain area to live.


Just two days after natural gas exploration company Encana announced it is pulling out of the Back Mountain, Realtor Bob Cook said property owners have already called him about putting large tracts of land back on the market.

“I believe we\’re going to see more vacant lands available at more reasonable prices than before, and I believe we\’re going to see more people coming to the Back Mountain to live, which is going to stimulate the market,” Cook said.

Cook is a life-long Harveys Lake resident and has represented real estate buyers and sellers for more than 20 years. He is a realtor associate at Prudential Poggi and Jones Realtors, Shavertown, and specializes in properties at Harveys Lake and the Back Mountain.

He said that the presence of Encana, which leased more than 25,000 acres in Luzerne County and drilled exploratory natural gas wells in Lake and Fairmount townships, brought uncertainty to the Back Mountain real estate market, and that the driller\’s announcement Thursday that the company will leave the county because it failed to find commercial quantities of natural gas at its wells will bring stability back to the market.

“I feel things have definitely been uncertain in the overall market, and the natural gas industry left all the more uncertainty here,” Cook said. “Once you start drilling in the county, then you open a whole can of worms about how many wells are going to be drilled, and is it going to be my neighbor.”

Now that Encana is gone, Cook said home values in the region are likely to stabilize and increase, while the value of undeveloped land will likely decrease as associated gas rights have apparently lost much of their value.

Cook said shale gas drilling offered a “mixed blessing” to the Back Mountain Real Estate Market.

“It was a double-edged sword,” Cook said. “On one hand, it would bring in a lot of jobs to the area and stimulate the economy, so that people could buy more houses. The negative side was the environmental issues that come with any type of new industry that hasn\’t proven itself 100 percent safe when it comes to the environment.”

“I did have people who did not want to move to the Back Mountain, the upper Luzerne County area, because they were scared of the gas drilling because of what happened in the Dimock area,” he added.

For himself, Cook, who also works from a lakefront home office at Harvey\’s Lake, said he is happy to see Encana pack its bags for the time being.

“I personally feel that the environment is more important than the monetary value of the gas,” Cook said. “If you see fish floating in Harveys Lake …You\’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg.”

Copyright: Times Leader


Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.