Delaware may get gas drilling commission
July 18, 2012 —
A virtually unprecedented crowd of more than 75 people jostled into the tiny, sweltering Town of Delaware Town Hall on Wednesday night in the expectation of hearing some talk about a resolution passed, apparently on the spur of the moment, during the public comment period of the last regular town meeting. The resolution supports residents disposing of their mineral rights as they wish, and is viewed by many as being an open invitation to gas drilling within the town's borders.
It wasn’t specifically listed on the agenda—the council sprinted through that in less than half an hour—but when the Council Comment item was reached, town supervisor Ed Sykes announced that town residents Stephan Lundgren, his challenger in the last election, and Zeke and Ginny Boyle had come to him with a proposal to form a commission on gas drilling, similar to that formed last year in Cochecton. The commission would allow citizens on both sides of the issue to come together and discuss the pros and cons in a thoughtful way.
The proposal was a reaction to the resolution, which fracking opponents deem precipitate and ill-considered. Indeed, according to a comment made later in the evening, council member John Gain, absent on vacation Wednesday, had commented at a meeting convened earlier in the month to consider the purchase of a truck, that he regretted his "yes" vote on the resolution as having been too hasty.
Lundgren said in describing his reasons for proposing the commission, “It’s very clear that the town board meetings and the public comment period are not the best and most appropriate venue for the entire town discussing in a fair, and impartial, and thorough way such a controversial and important issue… The public comment period does not allow all the stakeholders in the town to express their thoughts and feelings on the issue.”
According to Sykes, he, council member Cindy Herbert and council member Hal Roeder (absent Wednesday on family business) would all be open to such a proposal. He had been unable to reach John Gain for comment. The fifth member, Al Steppich, said he didn’t see anything to be gained by it.