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Local News

February 14, 2013

Town to hear comments on drilling

Residents soon will have two opportunities to speak before the Oneonta Town Board about a proposed extension to a moratorium on natural gas drilling.

The Oneonta Town Board set a meeting Wednesday night to consider an extension to the moratorium that expires in March. The proposal will be reviewed by the town’s attorney and returned in time for a meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 28.

The board also set a public hearing for the proposed extension at 7:45 p.m. March 13.

On March 13 last year, the board passed a 12-month moratorium on natural gas drilling by a one-vote margin. The ban focuses on all forms of drilling and associated activities, such as the storage of drilling-related materials.

The extension is needed because the town board hasn’t completed its comprehensive-plan revision, which includes a survey to glean residents’ views on drilling, Supervisor Robert Wood said previously. The surveys will be mailed out later this month, he said Wednesday.

The town board scheduled the Feb. 28 meeting to review the law and to enhance public opportunity to comment on it.

In other business at the meeting in Oneonta Town Hall on Wednesday night, the board:

• Considered a proposal by the city of Oneonta to provide police patrols, with an initial $80,000 cost, but took no action.

“While it’s appreciated,” Councilman Janet Hurley-Quackenbush said, “this is not an ideal scenario for our town residents.’’

The cost is prohibitive, Hurley-Quackenbush said, and state police need to be consulted. Also, the town needs comments from residents through the pending comprehensive-plan survey, she said.

The city’s plan doesn’t include some geographic areas that need coverage, Wood said. And the town awaits word from the Public Employment Relations Board on a grievance filed by two former constables, he said.

• Appointed the law firm of Couglin & Gerhart of Binghamton as town attorney. Wood said the rate for basic services will be $20,000 annually prorated.

• Authorized the town’s engineer to review plans of Panera Bread to install a grease trap outside its proposed location at Southside Mall.

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