Yates Planning Board shoots down fracking moratorium renewals

John Christensen

The Yates County Planning Board called two towns to task at their meeting Thursday, March 27, for not drafting codes to regulate high impact industrial uses.

The Town of Italy and Town of Starkey both proposed local laws to renew their moratoriums on high impact industrial uses, an advised legal technique to halt the drilling and hydraulic fracturing of horizontal natural gas wells that has been so controversial in New York state.

In the narrowest of split decisions — 7 to 6 — the Planning Board voted down the renewals.

The motion to disapprove was made by Chairman Ron Rubin, and seconded by John Sawers.

Voting for disapproval were Rubin, Herbie Snyder, Jerry Stape, Chuck Mitchell, Karl Tober, Kevin North, and Sawers. Voting to approve the renewals were Caryl Sutterby, Judy Wiltberger, Sarah Vestal, Charles Kreuzer, Paul Danielson, and Bill Hall.

The decision was sent to the towns with the following reason:

“The purpose of a moratorium is to give a municipality time to study the potential impacts of a proposed land use and consequently, during the time of the moratorium, make changes to their Comprehensive Plan and/or zoning ordinance. The County Planning Board feels a one-year moratorium with a one-year extension is sufficient time to take the above action.

The County Planning Board wants to remind the Town of Italy (and Starkey) of the three criteria imperative in enacting as well as extending a moratorium:

• Response to a dire necessity

• Reasonably calculated to alleviate or prevent a crisis condition

• The municipality is presently taking steps to rectify the problem.”

Both town boards may still approve the moratoriums by super-majority. It should be noted that state approval for hydro-fracking remains delayed by executive order of Gov. Andrew Cuomo until environmental and health and human safety studies have been completed.

The following applications were all approved:


• Sandberg Family Trust at 336 Route 54-East Lake Rd., requests multiple area variances to build a single unit dwelling and garage on a nonconforming lot (existing home/garage will be demolished due to unsafe building conditions).


• Karen Hudson at 860 PreEmption Rd., requests a special use permit amendment to build a new storage building.

• Michael Horning at 2855 Ferguson Corners Rd., requests a special use permit to operate a woodworking shop and area variance to locate three (3) buildings in front of primary residence.


• Town of Middlesex proposed local law to amend the zoning law to grant additional enforcement power to the Code Enforcement Officer.

 Penn Yan

• Knapp & Schlappi at 1 Waddell Ave., requests a use variance in order to rebuild/repair a non-conforming residential use in a general commercial zone.