Meaning literally “I Friend Home Rule.” Thanks to the hard work of many people, the Towns of Dryden and Middlefield have literally been “friended” – in Latin no less – by dozens of cities and towns in their fight to defend their constitutional right to enact land use ordinances. Amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs have been filed in support of Home Rule by over 50 New York cities and towns, lead by brave Ulysses. And joined by the Conference of Mayors, the New York Association of Towns, the New York Planning Federation – who have risen to the occasion in support of a municipality’s right to control land uses within its borders – including where a shale gas well may or may not be drilled – as is their right and their responsibility, in New York as in other states. As evidenced by over 100 towns in New York.
This support from a broad coalition of cities and towns stands in rather sharp contrast to the fracker’s amicus which seeks to gut Home Rule, based on the peculiar legal notion that gas can be harvested – like corn.
Jon Campbell gets the scoop:
ALBANY — More than 50 towns and cities from across upstate New York have asked a state appeals court for permission to weigh in on whether municipalities can ban natural-gas drilling within their borders.
According to court filings made this week, the 53 municipalities — along with the state Association of Towns, Conference of Mayors and the New York Planning Federation — are hoping to submit a legal argument in favor of “Home Rule.”
A Norwegian natural-gas company and a Cooperstown-area farmer have appealed separate state Supreme Court decisions that found New York law does not prevent municipalities from banning or using zoning laws to prevent hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
The lawsuits, which seek to overturn municipal fracking bans, would “significantly undermine the power of municipalities of this State” if they are successful, according to the most-recent filing from the cities and towns.
“It’s really a question of home rule,” said John Henry, an attorney for Albany-based firm Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, which is representing the municipalities. “They want to make sure that municipalities have a say in regulating the activities within their borders.”
Among the participating towns are many that have passed or amended zoning laws or moratoriums designed to prevent gas drilling locally, including the towns of Ulysses, Lansing, Caroline, Ithaca, Danby and Dryden in Tompkins County, as well as Rush and Mendon in Monroe County. Others participating include Saugerties, Ulster County, and the City of Ithaca.
If your town is not on The Honor Roll in support of Home Rule petition them to sign onto the amicus. Contact David Everett at WOH in Albany for details. Sign up in support of a town’s right to protect its citizens. No town should be subjected to the DEC’s obsolete, incomplete and ineffective land use protections. Your town board has an obligation to protect roads, buildings and water supplies. If it fails to do so, get a new town board – at the first available opportunity. Then pass a road use ordinance and a comprehensive land use plan. So the frackers will feel like they are at home – back in Texas. If your town has no road or land use ordinances for fracking then some of the rig crew members with international experience might feel like they are back in Nigeria. Not advised.
Home Rule will be friended by any legitimate group that has an interest in the case – and in the negative impacts of shale gas industrialization: real estate brokers, farmers, vineyards, home builders, health care workers, scientists. It’s a Big Tent when it comes to opposing horizontal fracking in New York. Contact the New York office of Earth Justice about signing onto an amicus.