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Cochecton residents want stand on drilling

By Erin Carroll
April 18, 2012

In a conversation that has been held frequently over the past several months, residents of the Town of Cochecton urged members of the board to take a stand on gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The board has maintained strict neutrality on the matter, and members have said they will be guided by the new rules being developed by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

At the meeting on April 11, it was noted that supervisor Gary Maas had received a letter from Grace van Hulsteyn requesting that the topic of hydro-fracking be placed on the agenda, but the request was denied.

After waiting for the second public comment period at the end of the meeting, residents expressed their unhappiness at the board’s decision to do nothing about fracturing. Property owner Brenda Seldin asked the board to get off the fence. Some residents again asked for a moratorium on drilling. In a request that was ignored, Joan Glase asked the board to take a vote on the matter and show the town what each of them think about drilling.

Others advocated that the state is going to protect town residents. Peter Grosser said it is still not clear what the DEC is going to allow regarding drilling. He said he fears if the board takes a stand and decides on a moratorium, landowners will sue the town for telling them what they can do on their land.

The discussion lasted more than an hour and Maas said that the board is awaiting the DEC’s decisions, and will continue to be well informed.

For the first time, one member of the board, Richard Schulman, publicly questioned the board’s position. He indicated he did not believe that waiting for the state to make the decision about drilling was necessarily in the best interest of the town.