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Cochecton residents want protection regarding gas drilling

By Fritz Mayer
June 24, 2011

Cochecton resident Allan Rubin said gas drilling may never come to Cochecton, but, then again, it might. He added, “The town board has taken a neutral position on natural gas; this is not acceptable. There is activity in other towns that would maintain local discretion about whether to allow heavy industrial development.”

The comment, made at a public hearing at the Cochecton Town Hall on June 16, was one of several by residents that criticized the official position of the town board that it should maintain strict neutrality regarding gas drilling. Several speakers referenced the towns of Highland, Lumberland and Tusten and the efforts those town boards are taking to limit gas drilling impacts to town infrastructure and character.

The purpose of the hearing was to hear public comments about proposed updates to Cochecton’s comprehensive plan, subdivision law and zoning law.

Of the 60 or so who turned out for the hearing, the overwhelming majority were concerned that while the zoning update makes no mention of gas drilling, there is also no language that would protect against it. In the comprehensive plan update, there was a single line which said that there is a potential for natural gas drilling in the town, which some residents objected to.

Resident Laurie McFadden, who is also an attorney, was concerned that proposed documents were presented in such a way that it was very difficult to compare the existing laws with the proposed updates, and what language from the existing laws had been deleted.

She noted, for instance, that the following line that was contained in the existing zoning law was eliminated from the proposed new law: “Areas of greater than 25% in average slope… shall not be altered re-graded cleared or built upon to any extent…”

She asked if the board was aware of this and other similar changes that had been made to the zoning law by the consultant Tom Shepstone.

Shepstone was repeatedly brought into the conversation with some residents speculating that he had slipped language into the updates that would make it easier for gas drilling and other development activities to go forward in the town.

Ted Haber, who identified himself as a member of the Cochecton summer community, asked in reference to Shepstone, “Once gas drilling became a big issue, and you knew that your primary consultant in developing the plan, was not only an advocate for the industry, but was a lobbyist for the industry… why wouldn’t the board at that point have sought some other independent consultant to add to Mr. Shepstone’s input?”

Apparently not "obstructionists"

Apparently, as well, the natural comes from a long line of flying pigs, and yes, the New Jersey Legislature has banned, flying pigs.

Congratulations, and thanks, to the New Jersey Legislature.


I so enjoyed the above article as a perfect example of American democracy at work. In the column at the right of the page are frantic advertisements urging the public to "get in now while there is still time", while at the meeting itself the dialogue runs from "Why would you have hired a fox to design the henhouse" concerning the zoning laws to "the devil with your damn children, Ill put a gas well in their cradle if I want" It is wonderful how the presence of a pile of oil company cash can strip any facade of decency, honesty, humanity and integrity from a good portion of the public.
I would like to direct the attention of all involved to todays New York Times article concerning the subject. It seems that the entire thing might turn out to be just the latest fantastically complicated scam to sell investors on a process that will in the near future run out of gas quite literally. It will soon leave everyone except the elect wiseguys at the top holding the proverbial bag. The rest of us can then figure out how to clean up the mess they and their supporters made of OUR environment. Stand by for the "bundling" of worthless gas leases into worthless investment securities for sale thru GoldenSacks. The "Music Man" has returned to River City .

While not totally inaccurate

the headline does state that Cochecton residents want portection regarding gas drilling. The headline could also state that Cochecton residents do not want protection regarding gas drilling. Some do and some do not. This headline is misleading. Perhaps a qualifier like some residents, or if you have the numbers (not voodoo math) that most want it, state that. One might think that all residents are concerned when one reads this headline. Some cynics might think that is the desired impression.

Natural wants shale gas extraction...

But, the New Jersey Senate just voted 33-1 to BAN hydraulic fracturing in the State of New Jersey. How could the Assembly not follow after that? How could the Republican, Governor Christie, still support drilling in the Delaware River Basin after these votes?

If this develops, perhaps Cochecton, which certainly is in the Delaware River Basin, will receive real protection from Hydraulic Fracturing.

Natural always likes to cockle doodle do, that shale gas extraction is inevitable. In that, he joins the minority Marianettes in their chorus, "it's inevitable, it's inevitable"!

It's a long haul, and we shall see. One day at a time.

Wow, the Assembly passed it overwhelmingly too

I'm told that the NJ Assembly just passed the ban by a vote of 55 to 11, with 8 abstentions. This is AN OVERWHELMING
STATEMENT by the NJ legislature. It doesn't matter if Christie vetoes it, the majority is authoritative.

This is very interesting. Eleven months ago, the Marianettes were crowing how New Jersey was on their side.

Very interesting, indeed. Add to this, the New York AG's lawsuit against the Federal part of the DRBC...

Elephant hunting is next!

Jersey banned something they do not do. That takes nerve and leadership. Jersey has always been at the forefront of environmental issues. They are considering banning flying pigs and thoughtful obstructionists as well.

Maas comment on Shepstone

"Supervisor Gary Maas said that Shepstone was hired for the task before gas drilling became a very big issue in the town, and that the bulk of the work on the plan had been completed more than a year ago."

The above sentence is, simply put, ridiculous. Tom Shepstone has been a member of NWPOA for a few years, and NWPOA signed its lease with Hess/Newfield in September/October/November, of 2009. That signing alone, is more than one and one half years ago. Tom Shepstone has been a firm supporter of shale gas extraction and drilling for several years, which makes the statement by Mr. Maas, again, ridiculous.

Gas drilling became a "huge" issue in the area, in late 2007, early 2008. Is Mr. Maas a supervisor in the town of "Wonderland", or Cochecton?