November 9, 2011 —
Representatives from several local municipalities who serve on the Pike County Marcellus Shale Taskforce made their reports to the county commissioners on November 2
Six committees that had been appointed when the taskforce first met were present. Those committees were: education, planning/government, environment, economic development/tourism, roads/transportation/infrastructure and public safety.
The education committee, which had 25 members, learned about gas drilling, how it impacts private water supply wells and the potential for water pollutants. The importance of individuals having their well tested by an approved resource was stressed.
Michael Zibrin, a resident of Blooming Grove, who represented the planning and government committee which had the longest presentation, said that the committee asked that the PA Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) play a leading role in advising townships about gas drilling issues.
“Any proposed legislation should not further pre-empt the powers of our local municipal government to safeguard its citizens,” Zibrin said. Speaking for the committee, he said, “We oppose any statutory prohibition on the use of zoning to manage all types of development and resource extraction through zoning districts and conditional and special exception approval mechanisms.”
On impact fees, Zibrin said the committee suggested that the county research how other municipalities in other states handle impact fees. He also said drilling companies should develop road maintenance agreements above and beyond the impact fee. He said a portion of the impact fee should go to the local districts.
The strongest recommendation was that all drilling activity be prohibited in floodways and in the 100-year floodplain areas as well as regulations prohibiting the storage of hazardous materials in all flood plains. Lastly, the committee urged that the role of monitoring erosion and sediment controls be assigned to the county conservation districts.
The economic development committee called upon realtor Davis Chant to report. Chant warned of the negative impact of drilling to the tourism market, stating that he knows of several real estate agreements that fell apart after the interested parties learned about the possibility of gas drilling.
Chant’s advice was that a major public relations campaign be mounted praising the area as a “green haven.” “We need to put that story out because it is a true one,” he said.
The committee on roads urged that companies forge a road management plan with municipalities.
The safety committee, reported by Pike County emergency management director Roger Maltby, said that the companies have been in communication with first responders in their areas. “We are holding trainings on how to respond to any emergency,” he said. “If there are incidents at a drill site, our role is to secure the area around the site while the companies specialists arrive, which is usually quickly.”