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December 19, 2014
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Lumberland learns more about zoning rewrite


David addressed the issue of whether or not the town has the legal authority to take such action. “This was a different issue a year and a half ago,” he said. A lot of things have changed, including what boards like this know about this process. The only lawyers who question a town’s ability to do this are lawyers who represent gas companies and lawyers who represent people who have leased to gas companies and are glad they did so.”

David added that the “highly conservative” NY State Association of Towns affirms this issue. The first of that organization’s 2011 Legislative Resolutions calls upon the governor and members of the state legislature to preserve and strengthen home rule and further resolves to strongly oppose any state initiative to weaken or eliminate New York’s long-standing tradition of home rule and local government authority.

“This is not a case where we’re going against what the law says,” said David. “And this new law provides very specifically that anyone aggrieved by this, and who desires to engage in any of these activities that are prohibited by this new law if it gets passed, has a safety valve. They can go for a use variance with the town’s zoning board of appeals and the law provides a crystal clear set of steps to do so.”

Keith Gilmour, a resident of Glen Spey, applauded the town for its efforts. “So many people here have worked so hard to do something to protect us all. Anyone who educates themselves about drilling knows that it has many terrible impacts on communities. We have to protect ourselves and support the town. The people in this room are concerned about their health, their welfare, their property value and what we love here.”

Petersheim asked why some are raising money locally for a potential defense fund. “What is it in this document that is motivating people to create a pledge drive?” he said.

Helen responded, “It’s not a town action, and it’s not part of the zoning. I have heard there are people coming forward to address threats by the gas industry that they’re going to steamroll their way into towns and sue towns that don’t allow them to do what they want.”

In fact, concerned citizens groups in the towns of Lumberland, Highland and Tusten organized a pledge drive earlier this year. [Learn more at http://www.riverreporteron line.com/news/207/2011/06/29/pledging-protect-way-life.]