Highland to put brakes on drilling?
By Susan Hallock
ELDRED On June 10 the Town of Highland took its first step in responding to the prospect of natural gas drilling in the town.
“Natural gas drilling is a big question mark right now and we need to take a very serious look at this,” Supervisor Tina Palecek stated. “Our residents are now being talked to by gas companies in regards to leasing their properties and we need to watch out not only for them, but also for the town.
“I know that the Association of Towns is currently looking into this as well, and I am not totally convinced that anyone has a true handle on it,” she added.
Palecek went on to note, “At this present time it is unclear as to what municipalities will do, but as far as the town is concerned we do need to do something and I am proposing a resolution for a moratorium to be prepared by the town attorney. The moratorium will not stop anything but it certainly will slow things down a little and then we can get our planning and zoning boards involved. Understand that this will not stop the leasing processes but it has to give us some time.”
The moratorium would be a legally authorized document that authorizes a set waiting period by a proper authority such as the town board in regard to upcoming projects or issues. Palecek noted that the moratorium will be for six months and that a public hearing has to be held before approving the moratorium.
“This moratorium is about the health and safety of the community now and the future of our town,” Palecek said. “We are currently working on a meeting to get the gas companies to come here and explain the whole thing to us but no one has gotten back to us. When we can have the meeting it will be on a Saturday so that allows more of our residents to attend it.”
Councilman Don Rupp added, “We do live in an ignition engine age in the perimeter of the United States and it was only a matter of time before it came here. You need to be careful of what you sign, and from what I understand the natural gas that is here can be very powerful and I further believe that the gas companies are going to walk away from all this as the fat rats.”
Town Attorney Michael Davidoff added, “With this proposed moratorium it should be clear that it does not violate private property owners’ rights and it further does not prevent them from signing a lease. That should be very clear.”
The board approved for the moratorium to be drafted and scheduled a public hearing to discuss it for June 24 at 7 p.m. at the Eldred Town Hall.