April 21, 2011

DRAC press release

I've posted the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition (DRAC)'s press release (33KB Word document) and accompanying photo, but here's the core of the release:

DRAC announces the results of a petition drive to ban fracking, calls on the Dryden Town Board to pass a protective zoning ordinance; Town Board unanimously passes resolution to move forward with drafting an ordinance.

On Wednesday April 20, 2011, the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition (DRAC) announced the results of its town-wide public petition drive calling for a ban on high volume, slickwater hydrofracking for gas extraction in the Town of Dryden.

The announcement, that 1,594 Dryden residents have signed the petition to date, took place during the monthly meeting of the Dryden Town Board, shortly after 7:00 pm at Dryden Town Hall, 93 East Main Street, Dryden NY 13053. The hall was packed by over 100 people, the overwhelming majority of whom were there to show their support for a zoning ordinance that would ban the heavy industrial uses associated with high volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing (photo attached).

As leader of the petition drive, Dryden resident and DRAC member Marie McCrae handed over the thick stack of signed petitions, and described the carefully coordinated signature collection process carried out over a 4-month period by 30 petitioners throughout the depths of winter. With the other core DRAC members standing behind her, McRae called on the Dryden Town Board to pass a zoning ordinance that would exclude high-impact industrial uses from the township.

During the next hour, almost 30 people rose to speak for two minutes each on their concerns and the need for this ordinance. Long-time Dryden resident Buzz (Mitchell) Lavine said, "The federal and state governments cannot protect us. The power to do that is right here in this room." Lavine has lived in Tompkins County for 48 years, in Dryden for 39, and served on the Town of Dryden Planning Board for 20 years. One audience member warned of the possibility of a lawsuit against the town by a big gas company, to which attorney David Slottje rejoined that there is long legal history in New York State to back up a local town's legal right to zone out unwanted uses.

Following the public's input, Dryden Town Board member Jason Leifer introduced a motion to approve a resolution directing him to draft an ordinance with input from town attorneys from Dryden and neighboring towns. Board member David Makar swiftly seconded the motion, and with little discussion the resolution was unanimously approved by Makar, Leifer, Board members Joe Solomon and Steve Stelick, and Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner.

The room erupted in cheers, clapping and hoots, with more than one dignified middle-aged person jumping up and down and dancing around. The crowd quieted quickly to hear Supervisor Sumner's instructions to Leifer to commence the drafting process. She also told the audience to prepare for upcoming public hearings over the next one to two months prior to a final vote on a completed ordinance. At 9:10 pm the crowd slowly dispersed, leaving the Board to conduct the rest of the town's monthly business.

Background on the proposed zoning ordinance

According to Helen and David Slottje, attorneys with the Community Defense Council Inc. who have developed zoning language for a proposed ordinance of this type, "Our recommendation to New York state municipalities seeking to preserve their character and avoid industrialization is to adopt a zoning law or amendment that specifically prohibits high-im¬pact industrial uses within the mu¬nicipality, and to utilize a definition of "high-impact industrial use" which encompasses unconventional gas drilling and any other uses deter¬mined to be inimical to the munici¬pality's desired character and goals."

Wording of the petition

The petition states:

"To: Town Board of the Town of Dryden, Tompkins County, NY:

We, the undersigned residents of the Town of Dryden, believe that high volume, slickwater hydrofracking for gas extraction threatens our water and our air.

Allowing this practice in our community will significantly endanger our health and well-being.

Hydrofracking is a heavily industrialized process that in surrounding states has snarled traffic and caused significant air, water and noise pollution, and severe damage to roads and other infrastructure. In many places it has had deleterious effects on tourism, hunting, fishing, agriculture and the local economy in general.

We urge the Town Board to ban slickwater hydrofracking in the Town of Dryden."

Concerns in line with Dryden Comprehensive Plan

The concerns expressed by DRAC and Dryden residents about protecting the future of their town are in line with Dryden's Comprehensive Plan, adopted in December 2005.

The goals and objectives listed in the Plan include preserving the rural and small town character of the Town of Dryden and the quality of life its residents enjoy; promoting the long-term economic viability of the agricultural community in the town and preserving agricultural land resources; and preserving the natural open space resources, environmentally sensitive areas and unique flora and fauna of the town. These are long-established Dryden characteristics that would quickly wither under the onslaught of gas drilling activities.

Also, the Comprehensive Plan's goals and objectives pertaining to housing and residential development, commercial development, economic development, parks and recreation, and public safety would be crippled by the advent of heavy industrial activities in Dryden.

"Over 1500 Dryden residents are calling on the Dryden Town Board to stand up and be our heroes," say DRAC members Deborah and Joanne Cipolla-Dennis. "If fracking comes to Dryden, we won't have a choice - we'll have to leave. But we don't want to leave, so we are asking the Town Board to protect the Town that we all love so much by passing this zoning ordinance as soon as possible."

Dryden residents are still encouraged to sign the petition, either online at http://petitiononline.com/nofrack or by contacting DRAC for a copy of the petition.

Posted by simon at April 21, 2011 6:54 AM in ,
Note on photos