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9:55 AM, Apr. 12, 2012
Written by Harley Campbell, Correspondent
HECTOR — An audible, collective gasp was heard in the crowded hall at the monthly Hector Town Board meeting this week, when board member Jeff Mangus broke from what had been a unified Town Board, and made a motion that the board enact a one-year moratorium on hydrofracking.
But the hopes of the mostly anti-fracking residents were quickly dashed when no other board member would second the motion. Other board members present were Alvin White, Mike Bergen, Marie Stevens and Town Supervisor Ben Dickens, and they failed to answer or respond to one impassioned plea after another from concerned residents — some of them moved to tears — in what one resident referred to as “endless stonewalling.”
During the meeting, Dickens twice referred to rules of conduct recommended in the New York State Association of Towns manual which reads, “Members of the audience and the speaker who has the floor cannot demand members of the Town Board to answer questions directly or individually.”
Hector Clean Waters asked the board last December to consider a moratorium. The group is now asking the board to establish a sub-committee to consider a moratorium similar to one that has been approved in the Town of Jerusalem, located in a Yates County on Keuka Lake and host to many wineries, and similar to Hector in size, geography and demographics. Members of the clean water group have said Jerusalem’s town supervisor has volunteered to help Hector with a moratorium. Dickens stated that he would be willing to sit down with the group and consider the possibility of a sub-committee.
Stefan Senders, owner of Wide Awake Bakery in Mecklenburg, presented the board with a petition to implement a moratorium, signed by 28 local business owners.
Interviewed separately after the meeting, Dickens, Stevens, White, and Bergen, all listed protecting the property rights of land owners, and a trust in federal and state agencies to regulate the gas industry, among their reasons for not wanting to impose a local moratorium.
Hector Clean Waters will present an informational meeting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the Hector Firehouse on Route 414 in Hector. Guest speakers include attorney Joe Heath and Sandra Steingraber from Ithaca College, who will discuss environmental and health issues related to hydrofracking.
See the event HERE