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Zoning guidance questioned

April 3, 2013

Given the fact that Tom Shepstone is a paid spokesperson for the gas industry, it’s not surprising that he suggested that the Town of Delaware rewrite its zoning ordinances in such a way that it happens to make it easier for gas companies to build noisy, polluting, dangerous compressor stations in the town. What is surprising is that the town is paying him (by keeping him on the payroll as town planner) to advance the interests of his corporate masters. It’s even more surprising that some residents of the town are willing to overlook this glaring instance of conflict of interest and accept Shepstone’s word that he really has the best interests of the community at heart.

Shepstone’s claim is that by zoning in compressor stations, the town can recommend protective measures such as enclosure requirements and noise limitations which the federal regulatory agency might choose to respect. He neglects to state the obvious fact that a zoning rewrite like the one proposed will encourage the industry to site compressor stations in the town, and that the town already has the ability to negotiate restrictions if and when a company applies for a zoning variance.

Moreover, the proposed new regulations do not cover all the known problems associated with compressor stations: contaminated air, low-frequency noise that can cause serious illness; and accidents that drive people from their homes. If the town really wants to protect its residents, it can adopt strict noise and air contamination ordinances that apply to all industries without creating special zoning allowances for compressor stations.

Bruce Ferguson, Callicoon Center, NY
Roy Tedoff, Hortonville, NY