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January 17, 2013

Town board looks to extend gas moratorium

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — The Oneonta Town Board is working on extending its moratorium on natural gas drilling, the supervisor said Wednesday.

The board needed more time to review the issue as part of the town’s ongoing comprehensive plan and study of current issues, Supervisor Robert Wood said.

In March last year, the town board passed a 12-month moratorium by a one-vote margin. The moratorium addresses all forms of drilling and associated activities, such as the storage of drilling-related materials.

Last year, Wood and board members Janet Hurley-Quackenbush and David Jones voted for the measure, and board members William Mirabito and Scott Gravelin voted against the moratorium.

Wood said he, Jones and Mirabito met Tuesday night to work on language for an extension of the moratorium, and the other two board members weren’t able to attend.

“Essentially we’ll keep the document the same,’’ Wood said.

The measure will be reviewed by the town’s attorney and be the subject of a public hearing at the board’s March meeting, Wood said.

The town is in the process of hiring a town attorney to replace Richard Harlem, who is stepping down, Wood said, and depending on the result of the hiring, the meeting in two months likely will be March 12 or 13. The town board will vote on the measure that night, Wood said.

An extension on the moratorium will allow time for completion of the comprehensive plan, Wood said. The project involves surveying town residents, a process that is expected to start in about three weeks.

The survey has about 50 questions on topics including natural gas drilling, zoning, development and public safety, Wood said, and results of the survey will influence decisions made by the board.