May 5, 2012 —
ELDRED, NY - Public comments leaned almost three to one in favor of the Town of Highland's Local Law#3, a zoning amendment that would ban high-impact industrial uses including horizontal hydrofracking in the town, at a public hearing held at the Eldred Junior/Senior High School on Friday, May 4.
What appeared to be at least two hundred people, mostly town residents but also some from the wider region, showed up for the hearing, and over 80 spoke. Apart from a brief bout of heckling early in the comment period, quickly squelched by Superintendent Andy Boyar, the meeting proceeded in a civil manner.
Law #3 has been in the works for some time, and had experienced plain sailing in terms of public support until last month's town board meeting, when a number of landowners voiced complaints. In particular, members of some hunting clubs said that they feel they should be able to retain the right to lease their land for drilling.
Hunting club members again spoke in opposition to the law Friday night, along with some others including two young men who had grown up in the town and found employment in the drilling industry in Pennsylvania. Also speaking in opposition was town council member Frederick Bosch. Negative comments, however, were significantly outnumbered by those supporting passage of the law.
Prior to the public comments, Boyar answered an audience question as to the process by which the law would be adopted or voted down by saying that the board's decision would largely be guided by what they heard that night, as well as by the comments submitted in writing.
The town clerk reported that 90 written comments had been received before the hearing. Comments will continue to be accepted by email or hard copy until May 14.