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September 23, 2014
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Highland makes headway on gas protections


In ongoing efforts to protect the Town of Highland from the potential impacts of gas drilling, the town board approved several motions related to the issue at its meeting on March 15.

A motion to request the assistance of Helen Slottje, Esq. and David Slottje, Esq, of the Community Environmental Defense Council, in the review and formulation of the town’s comprehensive plan and any pertinent zoning modifications, was unanimously approved.

Two additional motions of support for resolutions aimed at restoring local control were also unanimously approved. The first relates to road-preservation securities and road-use agreements. The second seeks to preserve town land-use authority in the natural gas exploration and extraction approval process.

The town also scheduled a public hearing for the proposed local law, “Establishing a Moratorium on Natural Gas Drilling, Horizontal Drilling, Hydraulic Fracturing and Related Uses,” on April 12. The purpose of the law is to provide sufficient time for the town to complete revision of its comprehensive plan and related zoning regulations in relation to high-impact industrial uses.

The six-month moratorium would further seek to prevent potential health and environmental effects such as contamination of aquifers and fresh water supply, massive water use, transport and disposal of fracking fluids, release of chemicals used in the processes; the construction of compressor stations, power generating stations, landfills, impoundments, transportation hubs and equipment depots; the conducting of seismic surveys and operations conducted at all hours of the day and night; and any other land use or activity which could result in the degradation of the town’s environmental, natural, aesthetic and agricultural resources, local tourism, and infrastructure, or present a threat to residents’ health, safety and quiet enjoyment of their property or the conservation of the town’s natural resources.

Other hearings will be held that evening for proposed local laws related to the Cold War Veterans Exemption, false fire alarms, signing private roads and amending zoning schedules, highways and zoning signs. The hearings will be conducted in the town hall in Eldred beginning at 6:30 p.m.

In other business, the town approved a motion to schedule temporary closures of Austin Road in Barryville between the Rory McKean property and the BrookHouse Gallery parking lot, one Saturday per month, beginning Memorial Day weekend and ending Columbus Day weekend, between the hours of noon and 7 p.m. to allow for the new Barryville Artisan Fair to occur.

The town also approved a motion to accept steel from the World Trade Center to be used to create a 9/11 memorial in the Town of Highland. Spring cleanup has been tentatively scheduled for May 21 from 8 a.m. to noon, subject to Sullivan County participation. For more information, contact supervisor Andrew Boyar at 845/557-8901.