continued Christenson said he would be willing to give half the amount to the town to cover its legal fees in this case and wanted half to be given to the Perryville Cemetery for maintenance and upkeep.
After a 10-minute executive session with Stokes, the board unanimously agreed — minus absent member Hank Stoker — to approve an agreement with Christenson in which he agrees to pay $1,000 to the Perryville Cemetery and the remaining $1,100 in the escrow account to offset the town’s legal costs. The town in turn agreed not to remove the addition to his building on the condition that Christenson receives a variance from the town zoning board of appeals to permit the continued existence of the structure.
Also at the meeting, Stokes reported to the board his legal opinion on the efficacy of current town zoning laws to regulate gas drilling in the town, specifically the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing. His opinion, which he also provided to the board in writing, was done to satisfy a request by a group of town residents who believe a drilling moratorium and ban are necessary to stave off gas company interests. The town board has maintained that its zoning laws are sufficient and residents requested Stokes’ legal opinion to prove it.
Stokes said that in the town’s zoning laws gas drilling is not a permitted use in any of the three districts in the town and there is also nothing in the code that would “logically include” gas drilling in any sort of “general” instance. He said drilling is similar to the Fenner Wind Farm when that was approved years ago — the town board had to change the zoning code to allow the wind farm because there was nothing in the code that permitted the wind farm.