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Ithaca attorney will help with Starkey moratorium

    STARKEY—In October, a group of Starkey residents asked the town board to work on a moratorium on hydrofracking. During the meeting of the town board on Thursday, Nov. 10, members of the group asked if anything had been done on it.
    Starkey Supervisor Richard Burcaw had an answer. Burrow introduced Helen Slottje, managing attorney
with the Ithaca-based Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc. Slottje answered questions and outlined some of the issues connected with hydrofracking.
    Slottje said the topic of traffic could be debated all day long. She said, “There is no way to do it without serious heavy truck traffic. The foundation in many communities is about land use.” Slottje said only the state can regulate gas drilling. She said, “While you can’t regulate it, you can still determine local land use.” Slottje said she believes towns should act sooner rather than later.
    Slottje is assisting Starkey without charge. Slottje said her firm would draft a moratorium  for the town. They are willing to work with the town board and town planning board on the matter. Details related to a possible moratorium were discussed, including length of time allowed. Slottje said moratoriums can be extended if something is being done.
    The town can regulate when trucks can use the roads. Noise connected with the drilling process was another discussed issue. Burcaw asked about ambient noise affecting agriculture in Pennsylvania. He asked if anything could be done about it using zoning. Slottje said Pennsylvania has very different land use laws. She said one of the biggest land use issues connected with agriculture is ground level ozone which affects crops.
    Councilman-elect George Lawson said the town planning board wants more interaction with the town board on the matter. Lawson said there are a lot of strong opinions, commenting, “It’s hard to sort through.” Town resident Alan Giles said he is concerned about the change in lifestyle that intense hydrofracking would bring. He is also concerned about safety of Mennonite community members if a high volume of large trucks is in the area. Giles said, “I think the boards need to take a long look at it and find some way to control it.” Burcaw suggested residents write to the governor expressing their concern about the area watersheds.


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