Sep 22, 2010 Doug Campbell Uncategorized
Following a brief public hearing Monday Sept. 13, the Marcellus Town Board passed a resolution banning hydrofracking in the town of Marcellus for six months. The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, which will give them the opportunity to study the issue and develop further regulations.
Marcellus resident Vincent Murphy was the first to speak. He spoke in favor of a moratorium; no one spoke in opposition.
“I’d like to see a permanent moratorium,” Murphy said.
Anita Williams, president of the Otisco Lake Preservation Association, followed. The public hearing was being held in response to Williams’ request for a moratorium at the August board meeting.
“I agree with this gentleman; I would love to see it totally banned,” Williams said. She referenced a statement made by EPA administrator Lisa Johnson where she noted natural gas as an important part of our energy’s future, adding that its extraction “must not come at the expense of safe water and our health.”
“I think that’s basically what we’re looking at … our health and the health of other generations,” Williams said.
Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Jim Rhinehart was also in attendance. He mentioned the county’s action in banning hydrofracking on county property until further notice, noting that they did not impose a moratorium.
“I know there’s been a lot of questions regarding moratoriums because the DEC will ultimately decide when and if they’re going to issue any permits for hydrofracking in New York State,” Rhinehart said. “I’ve been told by our director here in this region that they won’t issue any permits in the Otisco Lake or Skaneateles Lake watersheds. For whatever that’s worth, I know that’s their intent.”
Supervisor Dan Ross acknowledged that banning hydrofracking locally would be more complicated than it might sound, citing the potential for tough legal battles down the road.
“We may have difficulty controlling or overriding a DEC permit for hydrofracking, but we might have a stronger case regulating traffic on roads (and/or) storage of material above ground,” Ross said.
“If we pass the moratorium, those are things that we can look into during the six-month period.”
Cemetery fence tests negative for lead
At the Aug. 9 meeting, the board agreed to have Mark Gallagher, of Gallagher Painting in Marcellus, test the paint in the cemetery fence, a preliminary step toward scraping the old paint off and giving the fence a new coat.
Councilor Kevin O’Hara reported that Gallagher tested the fence for lead in seven different places, and each time it came up negative. The charge for testing came in at $80, as estimated in August.
Supervisor Ross suggested lining up some volunteers and moving forward with the scraping of the old paint considering there were no environment hazards present.
Marcellus Historian Peg Nolan suggested that the town approach the project concurrently. “We can scrape a section and then paint it,” she said. “That’s the way I would do it.”
O’Hara is organizing a group of volunteers to scrape and paint the fence at 10 a.m. this Saturday, weather permitting. The parks department will provide the supplies for the project.
“Whoever can help out, we’d love to have,” O’Hara said. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to meet O’Hara near the length of the fence that runs parallel to North Street.
Recreational equipment ordinance tightened
The board held a public hearing to consider a resolution that would tighten the zoning ordinance in reference to camping and recreational equipment. No comments were made by the public.
The board had been presented with the issue of people living in RVs on a friend or relative’s property and had debated whether to allow it or restrict it all. The resolution, which was passed by the board unanimously, was a compromise.
Under the change in ordinance, camping or recreational equipment can be stored on one’s property subject to a few conditions. Equipment parked or stored outside a garage must reside in the side or rear dimensions relative to the house, with one exception; equipment can be parked in the front yard if it resides at least 100 feet from the center of the road. In other words, an RV, trailer, snowmobile, etc. cannot be parked on a lawn in plain view of cars driving by.
The change also states that parked or stored equipment cannot be used for living or housekeeping purposes, except when occupied by a visiting relative for no more than 21 days a year.
“That covers the situation where you might have parents who come in the summer and drive their RV up from Florida,” Ross said. “They can [visit] for 21 days but they can’t stay the whole summer with the RV parked in the yard and living in it.”
During the public comments portion of the meeting, former board member Bernie Montgomery requested the board take a hard look at its financial role with MAVES during its upcoming yearly budget meeting. Specifically, he suggested the town stop paying MAVES a subsidy.
Montgomery was concerned that MAVES is moving out of the firehouse and building a new facility without any direction from the town board. MAVES has indicated that because it is an independent organization, it does not need direction from the board.
“To me, that’s an insult to the taxpayers of Marcellus,” Montgomery said following the meeting. “We, the taxpayers, put them in business.”
Supervisor Ross explained that MAVES relies on the subsidy to help with the cost of an ambulance ride, which insurance alone does not cover. He was not on board with removing the subsidy.
“The reason that we do what we’ve been doing is to guarantee an adequate response time,” Ross said. “If MAVES wasn’t subsidized, and MAVES didn’t survive because of that, we would probably have to use, let’s say, Rural Metro for ambulance calls.”