At their regular meeting Jan. 19, the Jerusalem Town Board scheduled a public hearing for a proposed one year moratorium on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and hydraulic-fracturing or “fracking,” while the town considers the zoning and local laws necessary to regulate it sufficiently or ban it altogether.

Board member Neil Simmons questioned the timing of the moratorium, and asked whether it might not be better to have it start on May 16, when the NYS DEC is supposed to make public its finding on the environmental impact of fracking. Resident Joe Hoff spoke at length why Jerusalem needed the moratorium in February to “make a clear statement” against fracking.

Town attorney Philip Bailey warned of “using up precious months” of a moratorium before they were necessary, and that extending moratoriums repeatedly makes them more vulnerable to being overturned in the courts. Fearing delays in the DEC’s findings, the board asked if it could be worded to begin upon whatever date the DEC did make its findings known. Bailey believed it could.

• REIMBURSEMENT: A public hearing of a proposed local law “providing for the reimbursement of professional consulting fees” was held. Wording was altered and questions were raised over the percentages of escrow accounts  paid for different types of construction projects. The board voted to take the changes under advisement.

• KEUKA MAID: County Administrator Sarah Purdy has submitted a request that Jerusalem share the legal fees incurred during the Keuka Maid’s aborted move to Penn Yan last Nov. 1. Milo and Penn Yan have already refused to contribute, and the board voted to do the same, saying that if Jerusalem taxpayers paid, then they’d be paying twice. They did add in their reply that if Milo and Penn Yan reconsidered, then they would also. Board member Max Parson said, “I believe this is a county issue and should be paid by the county.”
Purdy confirms there has never been a formal agreement to share costs.

• ELECTION?COSTS: Simmons noted that the 2008 election cost Yates County roughly $247,000 and Jerusalem’s share of that was $78,000. He said the current payment structure is based upon assessment of a town, rather than its proportion of voters, which would make Jerusalem’s share about $48,000 instead.

• WATER AND SEWER: A survey has been mailed to residents of East Bluff Drive to hear their response to the costs of a proposed extension of water and sewer lines to serve them.

• FINGER?LAKES?MUSEUM?DESIGN: Four design teams out of 33 were selected as finalists in the design phase of the Finger Lakes Museum. Town Engineer Wayne Ackart is very enthused about the candidates, calling them “world class architect designs.”