Fremont town, planning boards mull moratorium on hydrofracking

Andrew Poole
Fremont officials are seeking to put a local law in place to protect the town before hydrofracking could begin.

Citing a need to further study land and road use agreements, the Fremont town and planning boards are discussing installing a temporary moratorium on the hydraulic fracturing process for natural gas extraction, more commonly known as hydrofracking.

The moratorium will be designed as a resolution or a local law providing a six-month or one-year period for the planning board to further research the issue and protect the town.

If a local law is designed, a public hearing would be required before it was approved. A resolution wouldn’t require a hearing.

“We’re not asking for a moratorium to stop the process or to outlaw it,” said planning board co-chair Ann Dye. “But we do need some time to get a local law in place.”

The current land use agreement, she said, requires land owners to apply for a special permit before any natural gas drilling is done in the town.

The road use agreement is still being designed, but is based on the Steuben County agreement, added Supervisor Tom Flansburg.

Exactly what the town could prohibit is unclear. Dye admitted that they couldn’t stop oil and gas drilling or supercede state laws.

Still, she’s hoping to continue studying drilling to protect the town where necessary.

“There are some regulations we can put in place, and we would like a chance to at least look at what we are allowed to control and what the town would like before it all happens,” she said.

Hydrofracking discussions will move to the forefront in Fremont on Thursday, when Keuka College Professor Kasey Klingensmith will present information on the Marcellus Shale at 7 p.m. at the town hall.

The town previously heard a presentation in February from the Steuben County Land Owners Coalition on hydrofracking and lease agreements with drilling companies.