Model Laws/Policies/Planning for Local Control

Local Control

General tools/models

Model Laws

Road Preservation

  • Virgil, NY Road Protection Law 2110

  • Madison County Road Agreement

  • Yates Co. Model Road Preservation, Use, Repair Agreement

  • Stueben County Wants State to Set Policy on Road Use for Drilling Corning Leader.  Nov. 30, 201

    • Some comments from Jim Northrup on road protection:

      Although Freetown is more comprehensive, IMO, tying the weight to NYS DOT 385 would be too complicated for most towns to enforce
      Since 385 is basically a formula  based on length  / number of axles etc. – which as James says may equate to a weight beyond town road limits
      Since whoever enforces this cannot “see” weight or have the equipment to gauge weight, would set the threshold based length and number of wheels 
      Secondly, would address trip frequency of trucks that go beyond the weight threshold – since that is what wrecks the road 
      If you do not, the ordinance would be arbitrary – and possibly unenforceable 
      And some Supers might not enforce it – if there is no objective standard =- weight x frequency 
      Plus neither ordinances state which roads may be off limits – by weight / length
      All that said – an Upstate convocation of Town and County Supers seems long overdue . . . 
      Some officials have looked into these matters a bit closer than others 
      Some counties have gotten this drastically (intentionally ?) wrong – the weight threshold in Broome Co. is the Federal DOT  limit on any truck anywhere
      Meaning they can’t be on the road at all . . . 
      Room for improvement. Won’t be one-size-fits-all, but may keep some towns from misfiring. 
      Would nominate a county / organizational host and have a summit . . .
      Towns /counties/ villages may not agree on details, but may at least figure out what will likely work/ not work 

Aquifer Protection

    • Virgil, NY Aquifer Protection Law 2010

    • Cape Cod Commission. Model Aquifer Zoning Overlay Law

    • The Brockway Borough Municipal Authority has filed a lawsuit  against a drilling company in Jefferson County Court. In a press release, the Friends of the Brockway Area Watershed has announced that the Authority filed the lawsuit filed in order to protect the community water supply.   The 5,000 acre watershed provides water to 2,000 local customers.   The municipal authority does not own the mineral rights to the land in Elk and Jefferson Counties, which provides water to 2,000 local customers.   This proactive tort may be unprecedented.  Like the recent Pittsburgh drilling ordinance, it is an effort to undo over a hundred years’ worth of law which gives corporations greater rights than the communities in which they do business.  Rather than wait for an accident which would endanger the municipality’s entire water supply, Brockway took action.  The 17 page lawsuit can be read here.

    • Cortland Wellhead Protection Taskforce

    • Cortlandville Aquifer Protection Law (still under review)

Comprehensive Plans


  • Harmar drilling fears aired over noise, traffic, odor. By Michael Aubele, VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH. November 19, 2010

  • Allegheny Township supervisors limit gas-well operations. By Liz Hayes, VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH. December 14, 2010

    • Note:  Interesting ideas here. R1 (residential) could zone out drilling; but maybe not everyone wants that?   It is possible that this set of issues could get to surface use issues (currently this is only of major interest to folks ho do not own their mineral rights (mineral rights trump surface rights).  Should municipalities try and zone out gas drilling (as an industrial use), they will probably run into all this partly fomented by industry. Stan Scobie, Binghamton, NY, 607-669-4683


  • Ulysses explores gas-drilling ban. Attorney: Consistent rural character may support move.  By Liz Lawyer • • October 28, 2010.’s the approach a group of Town of Ulysses planners and anti-drilling activists plan to use to keep hydraulic fracturing out of the rural town.Local governments in New York state are prohibited by state law from regulating drilling activities, but a long precedent of state courts respecting local zoning ordinances may give Ulysses residents the necessary leverage to keep drilling pads out, said Helen Slottje, a lawyer for the Community Environmental DefenseCouncil who is helping the Ulysses Gas Drilling Advisory Committee draft a resolution to present to the town board.”The way it works in New York is that the zoning power of towns is a very important and respected power, because it’s thought that local communities on the ground will have the best idea of what they want for their communities,” she said.

  • Before zoning, communities must form comprehensive plans. Ulysses’ comprehensive plan is more than 50 years old and shows clear intention to keep the town a rural setting. This is where the town’s legal basis for banning heavy industrial activity lies, Slottje said.  “There would potentially be communities (in the state) where trying to ban heavy industrial use … wouldn’t work,” due to a history of allowing such uses, Slottje said. “But in Ulysses, the comprehensive plan is very clear — that they value their rural character, that they want to promote agriculture, that there’s nothing consistent in their view of their community with heavy industrial uses.”

  • Ken Zeserson, chair of the town planning board, said the advisory committee hopes to present a resolution to the town board for consideration in January. While around 37 percent of land in Ulysses is leased, that land is held by only about 4 percent of the population, he said. Rob Oswald, a member of the Gas Drilling Advisory Committee, said they have collected more than 700 signatures.  “I have seen nothing but overwhelming support. That has included some leaseholders,” he said. “It also included former employees of gas-drilling companies.”  While town regulations of the drilling and mining industry would not hold up in court — for example, laws limiting operating hours, bright lights or noise — Slottje said she is confident a total ban, backed by the town’s comprehensive plan and zoning history, will stick. Townships in Pennsylvania have successfully used the tactic, she said.  “Our position is that this is not a regulation, it is a prohibition,” Slottje said.

  • “Harmar drilling fears aired over noise, traffic, odor: “…Based on residents’ concerns, Harmar will tweak its proposed zoning amendment that restricts where natural gas and oil drilling is permitted. Supervisors decided Thursday not to give final approval to the amendment until Solicitor Chuck Means makes minor alterations — notably, shortening the hours drilling companies can spend preparing sites and outlining a procedure for issuing complaints about odors that wells produce…There are no Marcellus wells in the township. Seiler said there are about eight shallow natural gas wells in the township…” ” (Valley News Dispatch) (PA)-

  • Natural Gas and Municipal Considerations: DRILLING OPERATIONS IN NEW YORK– Oct. 2009.

  • Legal brief regarding the authority that municipalities can assert over drilling operations.

  • Jersey City Passes Ban on Natural Gas Pipelines in 10 Redevelopment Zones. By Matt Hunger • Nov 24th, 2010. (In addition to adressing gas`drilling via zoning there is another compatible approach: ordinances  about pipelines: perhaps just to create a “record of opposition. Remember: no gas wells without pipelines. S. )

Park Resources

Alternative Energy

State Constitutional Provisions & Model Statute

Pittsburgh Council Votes to Ban Drilling

Pittsburgh moves toward banning gas drilling in city limits. By Bill Vidonic
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Tuesday, November 9, 2010

City Council this afternoon gave its preliminary approval to legislation that would ban Marcellus shale drilling within Pittsburgh city limits.

Council voted 8-0 on the measure that Councilman Doug Shields introduced to stop natural gas companies from drilling into the gas-rich shale. Critics say the process used to extract gas from the shale could contaminate water supplies.

Attorneys representing gas companies have said they would likely challenge the ban in court. Shields acknowledged that legal challenges are likely. The state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency regulate drilling.

“We can make an incredibly important statement today,” Shields said before the council vote. “Maybe we will be counted, maybe we won’t.”

Ordinance for Communities to Assert their Authority to Determine their Own Destiny.

Maryland Legislator Calls for Caution Md. should pass a moratorium on extraction of natural gas from Marcellus Shale.  Heather Mizeur

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