By Kaitlin Carney
NARROWSBURG Bolstered by public comment, support from neighboring towns, and the unanimous vote of the Zoning Rewrite Committee, the Town of Tusten Board voted unanimously to approve Local Law No. 3 of 2011, effective immediately.
The local law is inclusive of Article 14, the controversial zoning code change which bans gas drilling activity in the town. Councilwomen Carol Wingert and Lisa Dowling, and Supervisor Peg Harrison were the only board members present for the vote.
Article 14 was the major discussion point of two public hearings held to receive comment on the proposed zoning laws. Many of the written comments also expressed support for keeping Article 14 in the zoning law.
In the law’s final draft Article 14 “is enacted so as to take proactive steps to protect and preserve the Town’s rural residential character, the quality of the Town’s air and water and scenic and other natural resources, and other assets.”
Article 14 is “not intended to regulate the operation and processes of permitted businesses” but in its language is “aimed at minimizing or precluding the adverse impact on the town that could result from an inappropriate use of the property that could otherwise adversely affect the comfort, peace, enjoyment, health and safety of the surrounding land.”
Outlined in a subsection of the article are the specific prohibited uses and activities in any zoning district within the town including “injection wells, Natural gas and or petroleum exploration or extractions activities, Natural gas and or petroleum extraction, exploration, or production wastes disposal/storage facilities and dumps, natural gas compression or processing facilities, non-regulated pipelines, underground injection, and underground natural gas storage.”
The zoning law passage is one of the measures many small towns in Sullivan County are using to protect themselves from heavy industrial uses, specifically gas drilling and hydrofracking.