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August 27, 2014
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Delaware’s troubling new law

Liam Murphy

Note that the board did not, in its resolution, deny that its amendments make the zoning less clear in the River Corridor. It did not deny that the new law “creates a complicated process for a landowner, developer, or planning board member.” The main issue here is that the board has never given us a good explanation for making changes that have such obviously bad effects. The board used to say, “The county asked us to do this.” But no, the county did no such thing, and in its letter, the Division of Planning and Environmental Management requested a revision to minutes from a town public hearing to correct that false statement. If so much weren’t at stake, it would be funny. All that work redoing the map, and no one can tell us why.

It is clear is that the main inspiration for amending the zoning law was to make the Town of Delaware more hospitable to the gas industry. Not necessarily for drilling as such, which may never be viable in this county, but for infrastructure such as compressor stations. This is especially relevant near the river, where the Millennium pipeline runs and the land is not far from the gas fields of Pennsylvania.

Good government requires transparency. If everyone knew that the purpose was to encourage industrial development that would create no jobs and would benefit only large landowners, then the amendments would have been subject to much greater public scrutiny and debate. Wouldn’t that have been a good idea? Isn’t that what representative government is supposed to be all about?

[Liam Murphy is a resident of Kenoza Lake, NY]

Note: A news article about the Town of Delaware zoning change can be found here.