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Town Board postpones vote on hydrofracking law

Skaneateles farmer Dirk Young, middle, told the Skaneateles Town Board during a public hearing on April 19 ofhis opposition to the board's proposed local law that would essentially prohibit hydrofracking in the town. He was preceded by a dozen residents who spoke in favor of the law.

Skaneateles farmer Dirk Young, middle, told the Skaneateles Town Board during a public hearing on April 19 ofhis opposition to the board's proposed local law that would essentially prohibit hydrofracking in the town. He was preceded by a dozen residents who spoke in favor of the law. Photo by Jason Emerson.

— Dirk Young, owner of Twin Birch Farms on Lacy Road, also stood up in opposition to the board’s proposal.

“Some of this law is very difficult to understand and I don’t think the board understands it,” Young said. “When I read the ban it looks like a ban on all drilling,” including water well drilling. Young said the pipeline language in the proposed law is “very vague,” as well the language on the economic viability of the assemblage of parcels.

He was concerned that the proposed law allows the municipality to tell landowners how they can or cannot use their own land, and accused the board of preparing to take over the management of a resident’s land without compensation to the resident. “Gas exploration has for years helped pay our taxes, and we’re losing that,” Young said. “We should be compensated for that.”

He also asked why the town felt it necessary to create a new local law when the state Department of Environmental Conservation rules already exempted the Skaneateles Lake watershed area from hydrofracking. Much of the debate on the issue “is not grounded in fact, it’s grounded in fear,” he said, adding that 100 years ago people probably felt the same way about electricity, that electricity has and continues to kill people every day, yet still people use it.

Young also asked the board if it had a legal budget for the inevitable court hearings this law will create. “Other towns will let you pay for this. This will go to court; I hope you’re ready,” he said.

When Young repeated the question to the board later in the meeting, Roney responded, “We always have a legal budget.”

While Roney allowed Young to slightly exceed his two minutes — after about 30 minutes of comments from more than one dozen hydrofracking opponents — Young did not finish his comments due to being interrupted by one such opponent.

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Comments

BoheaTea 2 years ago

The constitution is the law of this land. Our forefathers were well aware of the impact of the evolution of unchecked power to the government resulting in a decline of our liberties granted to us in the constitution. This is another example of government taking our personal property to protect the community property (water, air, lakes, views,etc). The problem this Town will be confronted with is the assumption that all drilling for natural gas will result in contamination of water, land, lakes, etc.. In essence guilty before trial. What will be next under their definition of "Heavy Industrial Activities"?

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