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Local News

March 11, 2014

Oneonta Town Board considers ban on hydrofracking

The Oneonta Town Board will consider adopting a comprehensive plan and an anti-fracking law Wednesday night, the supervisor said.

Public hearings are set for each measure. A hearing on the comprehensive plan is set for 7:45 p.m. in Town Hall in West Oneonta. The regular meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

A hearing for a proposed local law amending the town zoning code to prohibit natural gas exploration or drilling will be at 8 p.m.

Under the proposed measure, “it shall be unlawful in or on any zoning district or any property within the boundaries of the town to operate, conduct, commission, authorize, or permit, or produce natural gas exploration, exploration or production wastes, natural gas support activities, or storage or disposal of natural gas production byproducts, natural gas extraction, exploration or production wastes dump.”

The proposed anti-drilling law is similar to the town’s moratorium, Supervisor Robert Wood said, but the law would be permanent. The town had approved a moratorium to provide time for a committee to update a comprehensive plan, which also is scheduled for adoption Wednesday. Wood said the 1998 comprehensive plan didn’t address natural gas drilling.

The town’s Comprehensive Planning Committee worked long and hard on creating a vision for the town, Wood said.

Wood said the anti-fracking proposal is a good law that reflects the majority in the town who oppose natural gas drilling.  The Zogby Analytics survey taken for the comprehensive plan reported that 67 percent of respondents were opposed to natural gas drilling.

Oneonta councilmen have reviewed and debated the issue of hydro-fracturing, or fracking, a hydraulic drilling technique to extract shale gas. The town’s moratorium expires April 5.

The local fracking ban will be enacted by the Oneonta Town Board under municipal home rule law, among other provisions, the proposal said, and will take effect immediately.

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