By Dan Hust
WHITE LAKE The Town of Bethel has set March 15 as the date for a public hearing about its proposed and already hotly debated townwide prohibition on gas drilling.
At its Wednesday meeting, the town board unanimously agreed to hold the hearing at 7 p.m. at the Duggan Community Center in White Lake.
At some point after that hearing, the board is expected to enact a law banning not just gas drilling but any other “high-impact” use in Bethel not associated with agriculture, based on fears that such development could more harm than help the local populace and environment.
The proposed amendment to the town’s zoning code was initially drafted by upstate lawyer David Slottje, who’s assisted neighboring townships with similar proposed and enacted laws.
It was then reviewed and modified by a four-member committee created by Supervisor Dan Sturm, who said that “not all the committee members were in favor of a ban.”
Now it goes to the public, which already was weighing in at Wednesday’s meeting. Pro and con opinions were passionately delivered to the board, with those in favor of the law saying it will protect Bethel’s best and most valuable attributes, while those against the law decried the potential loss of property rights and business/job opportunities.
Sturm and fellow town board members Denise Frangipane and Vicky Vassmer-Simpson were pleased with the review process.
“I think it’s time well-spent,” Frangipane said.
“I believe it accomplishes what we all set out to do,” remarked Vassmer-Simpson of a document she said she was proud of.
The proposed law, related resolutions, and an accompanying 120-page land use study by Rhinebeck-based Greenplan, Inc. are now available on the town website: www.town.bethel.ny.us/ProposedLocalLaws/ProposedLocalLaws.htm.
A public information session is scheduled for Wednesday, February 22 after the regular town board meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Duggan Community Center.
The formal public hearing will be held on Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m. in the same location.