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So much for neutrality

July 5, 2012

The Delaware Town Board has finally come out from behind its claim of “neutrality.”

According to Councilman Hal Roeder the property rights of those who want to drill supersede all other concerns. To Roeder the concerns about health are “bullcrap.” And he assures us that the reasons fracking was banned in the NYC watershed don’t apply here; I guess there’s no turbidity in our unfiltered water. He was reminded that property rights are not without limits. He scoffed.

One of the main responsibilities of the board on which he serves is zoning regulation. The purpose of zoning is the protection of landowners from actions taken by neighbors that affect their land and impinge on their rights. Except for one abstention, and with the cheering section of planning board chairman Gerald Euker, the board passed Roeder’s resolution, in effect asking the drillers to consider our town as one that would welcome their presence; an invitation made in spite of recent polls that show that a large majority in Sullivan County oppose gas drilling, a majority who believe that “risks outweigh economic benefits.”

Our board is supposed to be concerned with the well being of all the town’s taxpayers and residents, not just the financial benefit of the few who will sign leases as individuals or part of a group. And I would bet that at least three of our board members plan to be in that latter group. If that’s not a conflict of interest, it ought to be. Hal Roeder’s comment to Rosie DeChristofaro was truly appalling. Town board members are elected to not only represent the constituency in fiscal and legislative affairs but also to look after the health, safety and welfare of their township through prudent zoning with their master plan.

Kate Kennedy
Kenoza Lake, NY