The Fenner Republican Party candidates for the November town elections are, from left, Bill Cody and Hannah Strack for town board and David Jones for town supervisor. Jones and Strack have been on the board for 16 and 25 years, respectively, while Cody is a political newcomer.
Photo by Jason Emerson.
continued There currently is no specific law in Fenner to prohibit gas drilling. The town board has maintained that current town zoning laws sufficiently regulate the issue and therefore a moratorium or ban on the practice is unnecessary. In June, the Fenner Neighbors group asked the board to have Town Attorney Jim Stokes review the zoning laws and give his legal opinion on their efficacy against gas drilling. Stokes said that gas drilling is not a permitted use under the town’s zoning laws, and there is nothing in the code that would “logically include” gas drilling in any sort of “general” instance.
Jones, Strack and Cody said they all trust Stokes’ opinion, and believe current town zoning laws, along with the current state drilling moratorium, sufficiently protect the town. But more than that, they do not see hydrofracking coming to Fenner anytime soon, and to spend taxpayer money on an improbable occurrence is not in the town’s interest.
“Why spend money if we don’t know what’s coming?” Jones said. “Let’s wait to see what [the state] does.”
All three agreed that drilling in Fenner is unlikely because the shale is too close to the surface and there is no adequate water supply for the millions of gallons per well that hydrofracking requires. Add to that the fact that there is a large and vocal public opposition to fracking in the town and New York state has such high taxes and large amounts of red tape for any drilling company interested in coming, and the Republicans don’t see drilling arriving in Fenner any time soon.
“For Fenner it’s really not even a debate at this point,” said Cody, who has done a lot of research on the issue. “Anybody I have talked to on this said it won’t come here soon, if at all. Thirty years ahead — maybe. But the technology will be so different and so far advanced … To debate this in Fenner is almost irrelevant right now.”