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Spafford extends hydrofracking moratorium

Residents urge outright ban on drilling

— After a public hearing lasting little more than an hour Thursday night, the Spafford Town Board unanimously approved the extension of a moratorium pertaining to hydraulic fracturing.

Approximately 50 people attended the Feb. 23 hearing on the law to reestablish a moratorium on gas drilling within the town, which is more in-depth and contains more legalese than one previously approved, Supervisor Webb Stevens said at the board’s Feb. 9 meeting.

Local Law No. 1 of 2012 replaces the previous law, 2011-3, which provided a six-month moratorium on hydrofracking.

On Sept. 8, 2011, the board enacted its initial moratorium, which lacked much of the information in the law approved Feb. 23, such as a lengthy list of definitions for terms used throughout the document.

The document also goes into great detail regarding “hardship use variance,” which was not included in the original document, a portion of the law resident David Larrison questioned.

“Where might a hardship use variance be granted? It seems to me, if you have a variance you can do a little hydrofracking on your land,” he said.

However, Town Attorney Neil Germain said anyone applying for such a variance would have to show an actual hardship that is not self-created. Typically, a statute such as the one before the board would be written with wording as is in the law.

Zoning Board of Appeals member Kathy Adams said the likelihood that anyone could make the case for a hardship use variance is minimal.

The reworked document more than doubled in length from the original and states that, while the law is in effect, it is the intent of the town board to supersede any inconsistent provisions set forth in various other town laws, in Article 16 of the town law, of the zoning ordinance of the town and any inconsistent provisions of any and all other local ordinances, laws or resolutions of the town.

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