Citizen Voices, a self-described pro-growth group formed by area business leaders, is entering its second year this month after 12 months of making its point of view heard at public meetings throughout Otsego County.
“We’re just a group of business people who are trying to make a difference,” group co-founder Tom Armao said Tuesday.
“This started last December,” he added. “And it really started when we began to become concerned about unintended consequences of some good intentions.”
The group’s primary focus during the past year — although not its only one — has been to oppose attempts to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that taps natural gas deep underground.
Armao asserted that some of the moratoriums “went beyond just fracking.”
“It was some limitation of business,” he said. “And then the county took up road-use regulation for truck traffic. It seemed as if, at that point, there was no public conversation; nobody was discussing the concerns of business. It was well-intentioned people trying to be responsible, but not thinking about, if implemented, what were all the unintended consequences we’re left to deal with.”
“Unintended consequences” is something of a rallying cry for the group. A search of articles in The Daily Star and other publications during the past year shows it being used to argue against fracking bans, road-use regulations and home-rule legislation sponsored by state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford.
“Our goal is pro-growth,” Armao said. “We need to have more jobs, more businesses to shoulder the burden of an ever-increasing tax load.”
Many of the Voices members also hold memberships in the Otsego County Chamber, Armao said. While the chamber is involved in many programs, he said, “it just seemed to be like nobody was doing this, so we just decided to do it.”