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Hydrofracking ban may come in March

Town board approves third moratorium while in final stages of drafting local law

Skaneateles resident Bill Hecht, gesturing at right, asks Town Attorney Patrick Sardino, center, about the strength of the town’s hydrofracking moratorium if it were challenged in court. “We’re on a strong footing,” Sardino responded. Town Clerk Janet Aaron, left, takes notes while Town Councilor  Rick Keyes, second from right, listens during the public hearing.

Skaneateles resident Bill Hecht, gesturing at right, asks Town Attorney Patrick Sardino, center, about the strength of the town’s hydrofracking moratorium if it were challenged in court. “We’re on a strong footing,” Sardino responded. Town Clerk Janet Aaron, left, takes notes while Town Councilor Rick Keyes, second from right, listens during the public hearing. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— The Skaneateles Town Board is in the final stages of crafting a local law to ban hydraulic fracturing within the town limits, and could be ready to take action on such a law by mid-March.

Between now and then, the proposed law will be submitted to the town’s codes office and zoning and planning boards for review, then on to the Onondaga County Planning Agency for review, before being returned to the town board for final action.

“The Onondaga County Planning Agency has said they currently see no adverse effects in our law,” said Town Attorney Patrick Sardino.

While these review processes are under way, the town board voted at its Dec. 21 meeting — for the third time within a year — to extend its moratorium on hydrofracking within the town limits for another six months, but only after getting an earful of criticism during a crowded public hearing on the issue.

“Why is this taking so long?” was the refrain heard during the public hearing, which was attended by about 40 people to a standing-room-only capacity.

“Frankly, it’s not that difficult [to write a law]. We’re making a huge project out of something that’s extremely simple,” said Bob Legal, of Mandana, a member of the town’s hydrofracking subcommittee. “I’m frustrated and flabbergasted that it is taking this long.”

Other attendees, like Marybeth Carlburg, of Skaneateles, wondered why the board kept bothering with moratoriums and does not just come right out with a ban law.

Town Supervisor Terri Roney said the moratorium is in place as a protective measure against hydrofracking while the town crafts the local law. “We have to do our jobs right and respect the procedures,” she said.

“I know it’s frustrating, but we have to do this right,” said Sardino. “This has been a priority.”

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