No fracking in Jerusalem

John Christensen

After numerous questions and comments from the many residents who turned out for the public hearing Feb. 16, the Jerusalem Town Board earned a standing ovation from a packed house when they unanimously voted to enact a one-year moratorium on hydraulic-fracturing anywhere within the town. Currently, “fracking” has been halted by executive order of the governor until the Department of Environmental Conservation has investigated the controversial gas drilling practice, and makes a ruling.

Acting on advice from town attorney Phil Bailey, the board decided to time the start date of the moratorium to the date of the DEC ruling, whenever that may be. Anticipating the decision to be published sometime in June or July, this will give the town more than the moratorium’s stated year to make their own local laws to either regulate or ban the process outright.

Supervisor Daryl Jones read the following statement: The board has enacted a one-year moratorium on hydrofrack drilling of natural gas in the township of Jerusalem, Yates County, New York.

Said moratorium will go into effect when the final New York State Department of Environmental Conservation report is finalized and accepted into law. In order to prudently prepare the township for the elements of the DEC report, an advisory committee will be formed to study, analyze and draft recommendations for town board approval regarding the implementation of a plan to respond to the report.

Art Carcone, Melanie Steinberg, Ron Williams, and Ed Seus volunteered on the spot to serve on the committee. Before leaving, many residents stopped at the table to thank the board members for what they had done.

The second scheduled public hearing was then opened for discussion of changing the post of assessor from an elected position to an appointed one. One of the primary reasons the board cited for the change was that an appointed assessor need not be a resident of the town, whereas elected assessors do. This would allow the board to look outside the town for the most qualified person with the proper certifications rather than, in the words of board member Max Parsons, “a good-old boy.” With no objection voiced from the remaining public, the board passed the resolution unanimously.

Other business on the board’s agenda included:

• MAPPING SYSTEM: The board approved the purchase of a GRS mapping system for the Water & Sewer Dept.

•  PUBLIC HEARING: Rescheduled the public hearing for the local law for reimbursement of professional fees.

•  OVERTIME: Ratified $5000 overtime compensation for the Code Enforcement Officer.

•  LAWYERS: Retained the law firm of Osborn, Reed & Burke LLP (and David Lippett) for $165/hour. The board also retained the law firm of Miller, Mannix, Schachner & Hafner for $160/hour for the Harbor View town homes project.

• MASTER PLAN: Approved the agreement with Ingalls Planning and Design for the Branchport Hamlet Master Plan.

• MEETINGS: Sent the Municipal Services Agreement with Clough Harbor, Clark Patterson Lee, Larson Design Group to committee for an open meeting.

The April town board meeting has been rescheduled to April 13.