Created: 12/09/2013 7:40 AM WHEC.com
By: Scott Pukos
Following changes made to a proposed ban of oil and gas extraction-related land uses in the town of Canandaigua, the public will once again have a chance to comment on the law Monday night at the Town Hall.
While there were a few minor edits to the ban's draft, the big change was to remove an exemption that would have allowed private wells for personal or agricultural uses, said town Environmental Conservation Board (ECB) Chairman Kevin Reynolds. Wells that already exist for personal and agricultural uses will still be exempt, he added.
This exemption was not included in the working committee’s original draft, Reynolds said. It was added after a review with Town Board members who wanted to include the personal and agricultural piece, to accommodate such natural gas uses as drying corn or heating a home. Many people objected to that exemption at a public hearing last month.
The working committee is headed by Tim Jensen, the town’s former director of development and planning, along with members of the towns environmental conservation and planning boards, including Reynolds.
The proposed law, which took about 15 months to construct, is more than just a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing — the controversial gas drilling method sometimes referred to as hydrofracking. If passed, the law would prohibit “land uses related to the exploration for, extraction and storage of natural gas, petroleum and similar hydrocarbon-based resources.”
During the Nov. 18 public hearing, multiple people explained their opposition to the personal and agricultural use exemption. Many argued that it could provide a loophole for companies looking to use the hydrofracking method.
“We believe this exemption opens the law to challenge,” Reynolds, on behalf of the ECB, wrote in a letter to Town Board members. “How can we argue that it is essential for the health and safety of our residents to prohibit oil and gas extraction land uses while exempting the same use for residents and agricultural operations. The same potential for serious negative impacts still exists.”
While the public hearing will continue Monday, there is currently no plan to vote on the law during the Dec. 9 meeting, said Supervisor Sam Casella. This doesn’t mean there will not be a vote, just that one is not currently planned.
The town has a moratorium in place on any large-scale natural resource extraction. It expires in March 2014. The temporary ban was approved in December 2011 and extended in May 2013.
A revised copy of the law can be found on the town’s website, townofcanandaigua.org.
If you go …
WHAT Canandaigua Town Board meeting
WHEN 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9
WHERE Canandaigua Town Hall, 5440 Routes 5 and 20 West
Can’t make it? Follow reporter Scott Pukos on Twitter at @MPN_SPukos
Read more: http://www.mpnnow.com/article/20131208/NEWS/131209777#ixzz2myryjIPs