Spafford to hold public hearing on hydrofracking moratorium

Spafford’s Town Board voted on Aug. 11 to hold a public hearing next month to discuss the possibility of issuing a six-month moratorium on hydrofracking within its borders.

This is the second time in two months the Spafford board has discussed the volatile issue; and for the second time, a large, standing-room-only crowd of interested residents — overwhelmingly anti-fracking — was in attendance.

The Aug. 11 meeting was not, however, a public forum. Town Supervisor Webb Stevens purposely cut the debate short this second time in order to avoid a lengthy discussion such as occurred in July. He said he knows that the September public hearing will draw a large crowd, and the discussion would be better deferred to that time.

“(Hydrofracking) dominated the proceedings (in July),” Stevens said. “We agreed that I would look into doing a motion for a moratorium (last night). In September whatever the consensus is … that’s what will happen to the moratorium,” Stevens said.

The hearing date was set for 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Spafford Town Hall.

The one person who was allowed to speak to the board about hydrofracking on Aug. 11 — because she previously made a formal request to speak — was Anita Williams, representing the Otisco Lake Preservation Association, which opposes hydrofracking. She’s made her’s and her group’s presence known at every single town board the Otisco Lake watershed sits in — Marcellus, Otisco, Onondaga, Tully and Spafford.

“We’ve asked every single town board for a moratorium, for protection,” Williams said.

The cry for help will be loud on Sept. 8, Williams predicted.

“You’re going to hear tremendous outbursts from the residents … which they should,” she said. “And that they will pass the moratorium.”

Sandra Weigel, one of the organizers of the newly-created group Citizens to Protect Spafford Watersheds, said she felt hopeful that the Spafford board will in fact support a moratorium.

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