Local opponents of the controversial business of natural gas exploration and drilling through hydraulic fracturing appeared at the Fenner and Nelson town board meetings last week to deliver petitions signed by more than 1,100 people demanding the towns outlaw hydrofracking.
At the Fenner Town Board meeting on Wednesday, June 12, about 50 people attended the meeting and presented their petition containing approximately 650 signatures of Fenner residents calling for the board to amend the town zoning laws to prevent and prohibit gas exploration or extraction in the town. The group said they have arranged for attorneys to do this legal work pro bono for the town.
Town Supervisor Russ Carey told the activists that the town’s zoning codes are available on the town website as public record, and if their attorneys wanted to review the codes and offer recommended changes, he would accept the suggestions and “treat them appropriately.” He said the board did not authorize or empower the attorneys to conduct a review of the zoning codes on behalf of the town.
The next night, Thursday, June 13, Miriam Barrows, a fervent anti-fracking activist in the town of Nelson, appeared before that board and submitted a petition opposing hydrofracking signed by 570 people. She said she was there as a representative of those petitioners to request that the town of Nelson pass a zoning amendment to prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing “in writing.”
She mentioned the occurrences at the Fenner Town Board meeting and said the same attorneys who offered to help that town board would also help Nelson.
The board accepted the petition but took no other action on the issue.
Town Supervisor Roger Bradstreet thanked Barrows for the petition, and said, “We appreciate your efforts and know absolutely that your heart is in the right place.”
Neither Fenner nor Nelson has any legislation currently on the books concerning natural gas drilling in their respective towns. Both town boards have previously taken the positions — which they currently maintain — that the current statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, as well as existing town zoning laws, are currently sufficient to regulate the issue while also allowing their boards room to address the issue in the future as necessary.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.