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Public Hearing – September 3, 2014

A public hearing on a proposed six-month moratorium on gas drilling, Local Law #1 of 2014, held in the Senior Center of the Town Hall building on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Supervisor Frederick J. Forbes.

PRESENT

                Frederick J. Forbes, Supervisor

                Barry E. Warren, Councilman

                Dan A. Weddle, Councilman

                Kevin M. Williams, Councilman

                Brian D. Young, Councilman

                Patrick M. Snyder, Attorney for the Town

                Anita W. Jebbett, Town Clerk

OTHERS PRESENT

                Gordon Wheelock, County Legislator

                Tyrone Heppard, reporter, Cortland Standard

                Approximately 40 residents (see attached list)

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

Supervisor Forbes read the legal notice of the public hearing (attached) and opened the hearing for comments relative to the proposed moratorium.

Bonnie Smith, Homer resident, read a letter in support of a moratorium on behalf of MICAH, stating that a moratorium would give the community and its leaders an opportunity to consider and review the issue of hydro-fracking and its consequences (attached).

Christopher Sammond, Homer resident and member of the Zoning Advisory Committee, stated that he is gratified that the Town is considering adopting a moratorium, but suggested several ways to improve the wording of the proposed law to make it stronger (attached).

Gail Bundy, Homer resident and member of the Zoning Advisory Committee, stated that she is in support of the proposed six-month moratorium because she feels the Town Board needs more time to evaluate the proposed zoning recommendations, and to wait for the State to complete its health study and issue proposed environmental regulations.  She also outlined her concerns about the gas drilling industry which has successfully lobbied for exemptions to important environmental regulations (attached). 

Joe Heath, an attorney from Preble, said that he has particular expertise in gas leases.  He stated that in his opinion gas drilling companies could not claim to extend leases due to a moratorium.

Evelyn Petit, Homer landowner, stated that she believes a moratorium is very important.  She read from the Town Zoning Law to make the point that gas drilling is not in compliance with the current zoning law which allows light industrial uses only.

Janet Swinnich, Homer resident, spoke about a news article and editorial from the Ithaca Journal that both suggest that New York State needs to learn from Pennsylvania’s mistakes in regard to gas drilling (copies attached).

Stuart Young, Homer resident and member of the Town Planning Board, said that the Town Board should wait until the State DEC issues its regulations before issuing any Town zoning regulations or enacting a moratorium.

Bonnie Smith read from an article which outlined major federal environmental acts from which the gas and oil industry have successfully lobbied for exemptions, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act (attached).

Gary Smith, Homer resident and director of MICAH, presented a list of 243 cases in which the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determined that a private water supply was impacted by gas drilling activities (attached).  He asked the Town Board to vote in favor of a moratorium that could be renewable.

Supervisor Forbes thanked all those in attendance and stated that any additional written comments for or against a moratorium could be mailed or emailed to the Town Clerk’s Office by the close of business on Monday, September 8th.   Those comments will then be reviewed by a Town Board member and the Attorney for the Town.  If no significant changes are determined to be necessary, the Town Board could vote on the moratorium at their October 8th meeting.  If further changes are needed, another public hearing would have to be scheduled prior to a vote. 

 Forbes announced that there would be a 15 minute break before the start of the regularly scheduled meeting.  The public hearing was closed at 7:35 p.m.  

                                                                                                                                Anita W. Jebbett

                                                                                                                                Town Clerk