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UDC nominates new chair; Keesler praised despite controversy


April 14, 2011

“We’ve had a few changes,” said Nadia Rajsz, as she opened the April 7 meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC). Rajsz, who is the UDC vice chair, was referring to the vacancy created in the position of chairman that resulted when the Damascus Township supervisors abruptly removed Dolores Keesler from her post as the township’s UDC representative at their meeting on March 21.

The reason given for Keesler’s termination was stated at that meeting by supervisor Joe Canfield, who charged that “she doesn’t represent the whole township.”

Some at the UDC meeting disagreed, with praise coming from other representatives on the council. Since the UDC had not received formal notification of the township’s decision, it was requested that a letter confirming that action be submitted. Damascus Township alternate Jeff Dexter said he would look into the matter. Dexter added that the township has not yet determined who their new representative will be.

During public comment, several came to Keesler’s defense. Damascus Township resident Bernard Handler praised Keesler’s leadership, noting that she fairly represented the terms of the River Management Plan (RMP).

“I feel that her dismissal was fallacious,” he said. “The fact that the majority of parcels of land have not been leased would mean that maybe she was representing a good portion of the township.” Referring to the results of a poll conducted by Damascus Citizens for Sustainability last year, Handler added, “I request that whomever they place not be a representative of the third of the people who are pro-leasing. The 67% of the people who have not leased their properties also need representation.”

The matter was advanced with the nominating committee’s recommendation of Town of Cochecton representative Larry Richardson to the post. The UDC will vote on the nomination at its next meeting on May 4.

Council members then discussed a letter, which addresses Damascus Township’s proposed zoning ordinance amendment pertaining to oil and gas wells and pads. The letter states that the RMP, drafted in 1986, did not envision high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing and that due to the scale of development, it should be considered a “heavy industrial use,” which would be incompatible within the river corridor.