Damascus campaign pits Joe Canfield against Dolores Keesler
Keesler said that the permits granted to the Newfield Exploration Company to drill in the township should have been handled by the zoning hearing board and not by the supervisors. “Formerly, gas extraction was lumped under mineral extraction and as such a ‘special exception.’ To get a permit, an application had to be reviewed by the zoning hearing board, followed by a public hearing.” This power was taken away from the zoning board and given to the supervisors, all of whom had signed leases, she said.
Canfield answers, “The Zoning Hearing Board is not permitted on any site by law. In sum, the responsibility for overseeing the community ultimately lies with the board of supervisors and the planning commission.”
Canfield said further, “The biggest issue is building Damascus in a way that recognizes our responsibilities to economic growth, sensitivity to the environment and mutual respect. What we need is people to work together to build Damascus Township. What we don’t need is to have our town pulled apart at the seams by people trying to control what isn’t theirs to control.”
On this, Keesler said, “The town is like a boat that is sinking. We need to work together and not take partisan positions in secret that pits one against another.”
Keesler said she thinks that the township should “develop sustainable business opportunities like niche farming, artisanal food production, recreational facilities, developing new entrepreneurial businesses, vacation business like camps, spas, retreats, as well as retirement/health facilities (which) can be built on the resources we have in abundance, utilizing the township’s scenic beauty without gas drilling.”