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March 28, 2014

Town passes comprehensive plan, fracking ban

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The town of Oneonta this week adopted a comprehensive plan and an anti-fracking law, officials said Thursday.

The Oneonta Town Board continued public hearings Wednesday night on the measures because of a snow storm that hindered attendance at a meeting earlier this month.

During the continued hearing, three speakers addressed the comprehensive plan and four spoke about the ban on natural gas exploration or drilling, Supervisor Robert Wood said. All comments were in favor of the measures, which were passed unanimously by the board, he said.

About 25 people attended the meeting Wednesday, Wood said.

The law banning natural gas exploration is historic for the town, Wood said. The local law amends town zoning code to prohibit drilling or exploration and the storage or disposal of natural gas production byproducts or wastes, he said, and it allows for the expansion of existing distribution lines.

The town board previously had passed a moratorium on natural gas drilling to allow time for a committee of residents to revise the municipality’s comprehensive plan.

A Zogby Analytics survey, commissioned as part of the comprehensive plan development, reported that 67 percent of respondents were opposed to natural gas drilling.

About 170 communities across the state have enacted bans or moratoriums on horizontal drilling for natural gas, also called fracking.

Patricia Jacob, who began as an Oneonta councilman this year, said people at Wednesday’s meeting were enthusiastic about the ban, which is historic legislation for the town.

“We’ve been fighting for this,” she said. “It was a really great night.”