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Tusten bans gas drilling

By Fritz Mayer
November 30, 2011

The Town of Tusten joined a handful of municipalities in the state, and became the first town in Sullivan County to ban gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing when the town board voted on November 28 to adopt an updated zoning code.

The code includes a section called Article 14 which prohibits the establishment of “high impact industrial activity” in the town, which includes gas drilling. The three board members present for the vote, Carol Wingert, Lisa Dowling and supervisor Peg Harrison, all voted in favor of adopting the zoning.

After months of discussion and hearings that were filled with often impassioned arguments, mostly supporting the ban but with a few opposing it, the actual vote was surprisingly uneventful.

The measure was introduced and passed within a few minutes, and after being assured that Article 14 was included in the measure, someone in the audience of perhaps 40 people said, “I guess we can applaud,” and so they did.

Wingert, who will become the supervisor of the town in January 2012, called the vote historic, and said she had not doubted that the measure would pass. “I thought everybody worked so hard on it and after working through everything, I didn’t think there was a doubt it would pass.”

Critics have said the law could open the town up to a lawsuit as similar bans have in the towns of Dryden and Middlefield in other parts of the state. Asked if that was a concern, Wingert said, “It gives me concern to a degree, because there are certain individuals that may pursue that avenue, but I think we have resources available … Some attorneys have offered their services, and there is a network that has funding in place, so I think we’ll be OK.”

Three other towns in Sullivan are moving toward a similar ban: Bethel, Highland and Lumberland.


The very hard work by the Concerned Citizens of Tusten Township has resulted in a historic victory for ordinary citizens !

This successful effort to protect their homes and community demonstrates the fact that we need to think globally as we can be most effective if we take personal action locally.

This ban on the industrial of a protected watershed puts Narrowsburg at the center of the world. We are hearing from folks across America, from Canada, and as far away from South Africa with words of congratulations.

As the global corporate machine deploys around the world to establish their ponzi play shale scheme, Tusten's successful mission will provide inspiration to ordinary citizens everywhere as they work to prevent the injustices associated with drilling and franking in their home towns.

And now, all roads lead directly to Narrowsburg, NY, the "PARK AVENUE" of the watershed.

I sincerely congratulate Tusten

Mark my word, because of your vision you will most likely see rising property values and they will probably soar. Many pro-drilling critics have claimed that the negative impact of drilling is not to blame for the bottoming out of sales and the decrease in values. By experience I know that solvent potential buyers ran away from here as fast as they could to buy elsewhere. Actually,as with every other commodity, there are always those who still could afford to buy. Due to the leases and the intent to drill for gas in the Upper Delaware region,our values plummeted. Even if some still blame the economy, remember, you can recover from a downturn...but leases run with the land, property owners who signed can't suddenly decide they don't want the lease. Tusten, as a Damascus Township resident, former Planning Commission member and former interim Supervisor, I commend you for your ban on drilling!


The supervisors in Tusten have acted responsibly.

Look across the river, at Damascus Township. A river doesn't run through it, it divides it.

Tusten has a town, called Narrowsburg. It has a library, an art center that stages cultural events, as well as art shows, a super market, a main street, restaurants, shops, a serious building supply business, a feed mill, two wine and liquor shops and more.

Damascus has a group of landowners, who are a minority (33%) of the owners of property in the township, who only form 39% of the tax base, but who own 69% of the land surface.

They have leased their land for drilling, and they run the township. After all these years of running the township, what does Damascus have to show for their leadership?